Kelly brought in 55 catches for 955 yards and 17 scores as a senior at Walton High. Also averaged 19 yards on punt returns and had 1,591 all-purpose yards as a senior. Redshirted his freshman year at Clemson.
Kelly was an underrated wide receiver who needed a full year in the weight room to add more bulk. A year removed from high school has served him well, and he should see significant time as the No. 4 or No. 5 wide receiver this year.
"Ideally, I'd love a guy 6-2, 190 pounds, who can run. The bigger the better, like Aaron Kelly," said wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney. "He's 6-4, but I'd like to get a little more weight on him."
Tommy Bowden said of Kelly this spring, "He doesn't look like he's very strong because his body is so tall and lean. He's really running really good with the ball after making the catch and making guys miss. That's probably been the most impressive thing. When I watched him in high school, he was pretty electric, but you seem him physically and he doesn't look like it."
Bowden later added, "He's a guy that if he continues to do that when he comes back and has a good summer of working out and if continues to do that when he comes back, he's going to have to be on the field and battle for one of those (three starting) spots."
Kelly recorded four catches for 37 yards in the Orange & White game this spring.
Kelly had a surprisingly strong spring, highlighted by his performances during the two main scrimmages before the Orange & White game. On one particular play, he came all the way across the field and drilled Cory Groover out of bounds while blocking downfield for Reggie Merriweather. On another play, he dragged CB Brandon Croley into the endzone after catching a pass at the 10-yard line.
The Tigers must find a reliable option at the No. 4 and No. 5 wide receiver spots this year, and by most accounts, Aaron Kelly will be that option. He's the tallest receiver currently on the roster, and he demonstrated this spring that he's added enough weight to take the big hit and live to tell about it. If all goes well, he could be in line to catch 20+ passes in a reserve role this year.