Louisville linebacker Keith Kelsey, a starter of 26 consecutive games for the Cardinals, returns for a senior season that comes with high expectations, both personally and as a team.
A preseason All-ACC selection, the Gainesville, Fla., native had a career season in 2015, registering a team-high 107 tackles. He also recorded 3.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries, three pass breakups, one fumble recovered and one forced fumble for the Cardinals nationally-ranked defense. His performance in 2015 led to a difficult decision of whether to turn professional or return for a senior season.
After considering his options and life goals, Kelsey announced in January that he would return to anchor the U of L linebackers, saying that the team has "big things" remaining to accomplish. As he approaches the 2016 season, Kelsey is driven to provide big plays and expect the same from those around him.
"I have a lot of expectations for myself," he said. "I'm also focused on the team, trying to go out there and win as many games as possible. Without my teammates and coaches, I wouldn't be able to be the player I am today."
While projected to finish third in the ACC Atlantic Division - behind Clemson and Florida State - the Cardinals have also drawn strong praise for their off-season progress and have become a dark-horse to reach the ACC Championship game and potentially the College Football Playoff.
"We can be as great as we want to be," he said. "We have the talent on both sides of the ball and we have the coaching, so now its up to us players to go out there and play it."
Kelsey is poised to lead a linebacking unit that ranks among the nation's best. Athlon Sports recently listed the Cardinals group as the second best nationally, stating that "the Cardinals have arguably the nation’s best one-two punch at linebacker in Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey."
"We push each other every day," said Kelsey. "It's a lot of great guys. We have a lot of great players. It's competitive in everything we do. We could be eating, try to see who eat faster. Play the game, see who could have the most tackles, sacks. At the end of the day it makes our team better and us better as players."