Kelly Ready to Claim What's His

"I can tell you this, they've gotten a lot stronger, and their technique has gotten a lot better," Yusef Kelly said of the Tigers' returning offensive linemen. "Those guys are going to be a force this year for us if they keep it up."

Yusef Kelly has seen it all before.

He's been in the program now for four years and experienced first hand the ups and downs of the college football world.

And now that his senior year is upon him, there's just one thing left on his plate.

Playing time.

Kelly comes into spring practice second on the depth chart behind Duane Coleman at running back, but his expectations this year are much much greater.

"There's always competition between me and Duane, but what it comes down to for us this year is what kind of scheme they are going to use for each particular game," said Kelly.

"If they need more of a slashing type of running back, then he'll go first, but if we need to pound the ball, then I'm going to go."

Yusef will be battling it out for playing time with Duane Coleman this spring for playing time.
Yusef spent most of last year battling injuries and other off the field issues, including the birth his son and reporting to fall camp slightly overweight.

The end result? His production fell off dramatically, as he ran for just 125 yards and a touchdown for the season.

"His problem last year was his health," said Tommy Bowden. "He had a pulled hamstring, then his ribs, then his ankle. That's three weeks per injury and his season is over."

Now that he has a clean bill of health, and he's weighing in at a slim 227 pounds, things are definitely looking up for the Walterboro native.

"They are, we've got a lot of work to do, but I'm excited about this year, and being healthy again."

With his nagging injuries now behind him, the general consensus is that he'll play more now that Chad Jasmin has used up his eligibility.

But don't tell that to Yusef Kelly.

"I don't know why people keep saying that I'm going to replace Chad Jasmin, acting like I wasn't that type of back before I got injured. Really, all I'm doing is just going back and claiming what's really mine," said Kelly. "And I'm ready."

Of course, a running back can't go very far without a decent offensive line. In closing, Yusef left with us this parting shot about his big boys up front.

"I can tell you this, they've gotten a lot stronger, and their technique has gotten a lot better. Those guys are going to be a force this year for us if they keep it up."

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