Kelly making a name for himself

CLEMSON — When Aaron Kelly came out of Walton High School in Marietta, Ga. five years ago, few people had ever heard of him.

By the time his Clemson career was over, everyone knew who he was.

At 6-foot-5 and barely 175 pounds, there were many that thought the tall wide receiver with the lanky body would never make it in major college football. They said he was too weak and too skinny to break away from physical defensive backs and safeties. There was no way he could make an impact.

Kelly proved them all wrong.

After bursting on to the scene as redshirt freshman when he caught 47 passes for 575 yards, Kelly blossomed into the ACC's all-time reception leader before his career at Clemson was done.

Playing in a school-record 51 games, he caught an ACC-record 232 passes for another Clemson record of 2,733 yards. He also set school marks for games with at least one reception (50), receptions per game (4.5), touchdown receptions (20), receptions in a season (88), receptions per game in a season (6.8) and receiving touchdowns in a season (11).

"It was a good career," Kelly recently told CUTigers. "I will always cherish the time I spent here. I wish we could have won a few more games, but I knew I always did my best."

Now the two-time First Team All-ACC receiver hopes his best is good enough to get him in the NFL. Like other former Tigers, Kelly was at Clemson last week trying to impress the more than two dozen pro scouts that were on hand for Pro Day.

"I did well. The two drills I repeated from the combine I did better in and I caught the ball well," said Kelly, who has increased his weight to almost 200 pounds "I think I showed everything that I needed to."

The two drills Kelly repeated were the short shuttle and the three-cone drills. Both drills are used to display a player's footwork and agility.

Since the Gator Bowl, the Clemson graduate has spent the last two months in Atlanta working out at XPE Sports, which was founded by former Clemson grad Tony Villani. XPE is known for its successful NFL Combine training program and has NFL clients such as Hines Ward, Jamal Lewis, Takeo Spikes and Wayne Gandy.

It also helped that Kelly's college quarterback, and close friend, Cullen Harper came up from Pensacola, Fla., and trained with him over the last month. The two were on the money with each other as they went through throwing drills this past Tuesday.

"That helped," Kelly said. "He came up from Pensacola and trained in the same place that I trained at so we kind of got our timing down and stuff like that. That really helped. We came here Friday and worked out Friday, Saturday and Sunday and even came out some Monday and put the finishing touches on this so we could be sharp."

Most scouts seem to think Kelly can be a good No. 3 receiver in the NFL. They really like his size and his long stride, which gives him deceptive speed. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at last month's NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He chose not run at Clemson's Pro Day.

It's also no surprise they like his hands and the fact that he is a steady player that has a nose for finding the end zone.

What scouts are concerned with is his ability to get off the line against much stronger NFL defensive backs. They also think he isn't very elusive.

Most so-called experts have Kelly as a second-day pick in April's Draft, falling somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. Kelly says he isn't sure where he will fall and right now he isn't concerning himself with such matters.

"To tell you the truth I have not paid attention to it," he said. "I figured I would wait until April when free agency is over and most of pro days are over before I get an exact feel for exactly where it is at. I think if you kind of look at it now, it is more like guessing than anything." Top Stories