"That really hurt: going down the hill, getting all psyched for the game and just knowing that you weren't going to play," said Kelly, who redshirted last season as a freshman wide receiver. "Then going home and having everybody ask you if you're going to play (added to it)."
Having to go through that is what ultimately lit a fire deep inside Kelly. He was going to make sure he never again had to go through that experience. No matter what it took, he was going to be on the field.
So far, he has lived up to that goal and then some. Kelly came out of nowhere during the spring to earn a spot as a starter in the Orange & White game and has since been the most talked about receiver by the coaching staff.
"One of my main motivating factors was going to the games last year, dressing out and having to watch," Kelly said. "So I figured I was just going to work hard so when I run down that hill, it's for real and I'm going to play."
Even though he may not have appreciated it at the time, sitting out last season may have been the best thing for Kelly, even though the Tigers most certainly could have used him.
"Going from high school to college is a big jump and it's a learning process," he said. "You also have to develop as a person and a player in being away from home. … I think there was a lot going on. Then I think I struggled in learning the offense. When you don't know the offense or the route running, you become dissatisfied and you just can't go out and run the offense.
"I just felt like in the spring, it was a new opportunity for me with the new offensive coordinator. Everyone started from scratch and everyone's on the same page. I had a better concentration. I'm know what I'm doing know. When I'm lined up, I just go out there and think about playing football, instead of thinking what play I'm running or what to do."
Tigers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst isn't really surprised at the success Kelly's had on the practice field. But he's some what cautious, becuase he has yet to play in an actual game.
"He was always talented," Whitehurst said. "He probably knew he wasn't going to play last fall. There was no need to even learn the offense, to tell you the truth. So you just redshirt and go around on the scout team and nobody knows about you. Your first experience in having to remember the plays was this spring, and that's when he made it happen.
"There was a little bit of time there to figure it all out, but he doesn't have it figured all out yet. He's never played in a game. What's he going to do with people watching? You don't know that. But I think he'll be fine. He's on the right track and he's making plays."
Kelly Glad Redshirt Year is Behind Him
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