Wide receiver Aaron Kelly, a first-team All-ACC selection after setting single season records for receptions and receiving touchdowns in 2007, announced he is returning to Clemson for his senior season Wednesday afternoon after a meeting with head coach Tommy Bowden.
Kelly led the Tigers in receiving this year with 88 catches for 1081 yards and 11 touchdowns. He needs just 52 receptions to become the ACC's career reception leader.
The rising senior out of Marietta, Ga. told teammates within the last 24 hours he was leaving for the NFL but a Wednesday meeting with head coach Tommy Bowden Wednesday and several extensive conversations with his mother, Janice Kelly, changed his mind.
"I was thinking about it long and hard," Kelly said. "And I just thought it was best for my family, my career, and my life for me to come back and stay.
"I was pretty dead set [on leaving for the NFL]. But for my mom to be that adamant for me to come back is pretty much what persuaded me. I felt like I was going against her and I've never done that in my life and I figured why start now?"
Kelly was one of five underclassmen at Clemson considering leaving school early for the NFL.
Junior safety Michael Hamlin announced Tuesday he would be coming back, as did junior defensive tackle Dorell Scott and junior QB Cullen Harper.
It is believed junior end Phillip Merling will announce he's turning pro before the Jan. 15 deadline. Merling met with Bowden earlier this week but no formal announcement has been made.
All-ACC running back James Davis has yet to make a decision but he is scheduled to meet with Bowden later this afternoon.
Merling was projected to go as high as the second round by the NFL underclassmen advisory committee and Davis was projected as a third round pick.
Kelly said he was projected to go in either the third or fourth round, but that he thought he could increase his stock with good workouts before the draft.
"It was just because there was a chance to play at the next level," he said. "Nothing they tell you is ever guaranteed. I thought that if I worked out well that I could go higher."
Kelly also said he orginally decided to turn pro last Monday or Tuesday before changing his mind around 1 o'clock Wednesday afternoon after talking with his mother.
Kelly also met with his position coach- Dabo Swinney, to discuss his decision earlier in the day.
"Getting my degree is very important," he added. "If I had turned professional, I would have left school now to train and would have had a lot of hours to finish. I am also excited by the prospects for this program next season."
Aaron Kelly to Return in 2008
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