Sure, James Kelly is still waiting on his first scholarship offer, but there are reasons schools have been slow to offer the 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end.
Kelly suffered a broken ankle a year ago this month and was not able to lift weights to a great extent the summer before his junior year. It wasn't good news for a player who is already a year younger than most in his class. Kelly was a 16-year-old junior and will be 17 as a senior.
Kelly said the injury also had him playing tentatively though much of his junior season, and that's something he plans to change this fall.
"They basically say they haven't seen the part of me just basically finishing off guys and dominating guys," Kelly said of his conversations with college coaches. "I mean, they like what they see with just my football ability in general and my speed, but they want to see that dominating characteristic."
Kelly said he is focused on putting on weight and adding strength in the weight room this summer to be able to do exactly what coaches have asked of him.
Mountain Range coach Bryan Davey said Kelly is a burgeoning talent who should be a force for his team this year.
"I think one of the interesting things about James is I've seen him anywhere between 36 and 40 inches on his vertical depending on the day," Davey said. "He's consistently at least 36 inches. He's got extreme explosiveness in his legs.
"Playing defensive end, one of the things people will see on film is that if teams don't do a good job sealing the edge or doing something to crack back on him as a defensive end, then teams don't get outside very well. He has an 80-inch wing span. So he's a little bit freakish in those types of ways."
Kelly has a handful of solid programs interested in him besides the Buffs, including Utah, Wyoming, Colorado State, Arizona State and all the Ivy League schools. Other programs has been in contact but haven't shown the same level of interest yet such as Duke, Nebraska, Kansas State and Oregon.
Kelly has a busy summer planned. He will attend camps at Colorado, Colorado State, Utah, a Nike combine in Utah and Wyoming. He also is considering a trip to the East Coast with his parents to visit some of the Ivy League schools.
"I've talked with coach (Romeo) Bandison at CU and coach (Larry) Kerr as CSU, and hopefully if I go out and have a good camp at either one of those camps, I might come away with a verbal offer," Kelly said.
Kelly was born in Pennsylvania and lived there until he was 7. He moved to Missouri for a year and then moved to Colorado. He said he has cheered for the Buffs almost ever since but has tried to remain more neutral since be began being recruited.
Kelly said he has been dreaming off playing major college football for years and getting his first offer will be big because it will assure the dream will become reality.
"If I get it, that's going to be a huge deal," Kelly said. "That's what I've been wanting for as long as I can remember. My first offer will be awesome."
Kelly is a versatile athlete. He was the player of the year in basketball in the 5280 League in the northern suburbs of Denver. In three years of varsity basketball, he has scored just under 1,000 points with 585 rebounds, 176 blocks and 134 steals.
Kelly has had some recruiting interest in basketball, but he made a decision to focus on football because that is what he wants to play at the college level.
"He's really starting to put a body together and a frame together to be pretty dominant next year," Davey said.
Kelly plays football at Mountain Range but attends classes at Community Christian charter school. He is following in the footsteps of Colorado safety Anthony Perkins, who also attended Community Christian and played at Northglenn.
Kelly will have no problem qualifying academically. He scored a 29 on his ACT and carries a 3.7 GPA.
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