VAUGHT: Woodyard's play helped bring Kelley to UK

Braxton Kelley might have signed with Kentucky if Wesley Woodyard had not been playing for the Wildcats. However, watching his former high school teammate get a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference and become a major contributor as a freshman at Kentucky last year certainly helped convince Kelley that he wanted to come to UK, too.

"It made a big difference to know I was going where a freshman I knew already had success. I knew if the coaches gave him a chance to play, they would me. So why not take that chance and come to Kentucky, too," Kelley, a linebacker, said. "I've been thinking about college football every since I started playing football. I had other offers, but this is where I chose because I thought I could earn playing time and help win games."

Kelley says he plays a lot like Woodyard, his teammate at LaGrange, Ga.

"I play hard every snap. I never take a snap off. Basically when I see the football, it is like a magnet. I just want to go get it," Kelley said. "I really think I can help this team. I'm athletic enough to where there will not be a drop-off when I go in the game. I have been playing football my whole life. Why can't I play at this level? It's not really a question. I know I can play."

Don't mistake that confidence for cockiness because Kelley is a polite, humble young man who has the speed and strength to be a terror on the football field. He says he got upset when his high school team gave up a yard and that's the mentality he'll have at Kentucky.

"I don't like to see teams score," he said.

Kelley said he enjoyed being in Lexington during the summer. He said rooming with LaGrange receiver DeMoreo Ford, another freshman who could play this year, made it easier to adjust to being away from home.

"It was fun here. I got to meet a lot of new people and see the city," he said.

He's not exactly a party animal. He says he went bowling several times. "I just bowl for fun. I can't bowl very well."

Kelley said he would rather spend his time in the weight room or doing something to improve his football skills than going out on the town.

"I have not been a linebacker, so I learned a lot when we played 7 on 7. The guys were all really cool. They pushed me to get better, just like they are in practice. They treated me like I could play," Kelley said.

Guess what? They treated him that way because he can play.

"All I will say is that I think UK fans are going to like Braxton Kelley," UK linebacker coach Chuck Smith said. "He's a player."


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