SYKESVILLE, Md. – In a non-conference bout between South Carroll (Sykesville, Md.) and North Harford (Pylesville, Md.), the home team Cavaliers came away with an 36-30 victory Sept. 11. TT was on hand to scout the Terps’ targets participating, including safety commit Silas Kelly, who had seven tackles.
Our take on his game is below, while a video interview can be viewed above:
Kelly is being recruited as a safety at Maryland, but don’t be surprised if he eventually shifts to linebacker. In fact, we like his game a whole lot more at the latter position given Kelly’s length (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) and physicality in the box. He’s tall, long and lean, but has plenty of room to pack on pounds. Plus he has lengthy arms and large hands, which will help him pick through the trash in the box.
Although Kelly spends a good amount of time in centerfield, he does his best work near the line of scrimmage. He flies downhill and can deliver a thump every now and again. Kelly excels at locating backs in the open, wrapping up and then driving them backwards. He’s a solid form tackler who rarely whiffs or lets runners out of his grasp.
Kelly takes tight closing angles to the ball, which compensates for what he lacks in pure speed. He’s highly instinctual, actively diagnosing offenses and anticipating a play’s direction. The latter quality allows Kelly to get a good initial jump, another reason he arrives at the ball rather quickly.
Moreover, Kelly has underrated athleticism. He’s not the fleetest of foot, but he can cover hashmark-to-hashmark fairly well -- with his closing speed a primary strength.
And when defending near the line, Kelly uses his long arms to disengage. He’s a tough customer at the point of attack, and when in pursuit, it’s difficult for blockers to impede his progress.
All of the above are reasons we like Kelly at linebacker, but, for a safety, he has some areas to improve in.
First and foremost, he has to work on his backpedal. In centerfield, Kelly tends to be mechanical; it’s almost as if he’s thinking about his steps instead of them being second nature. Against the current competition, that’s not much of an issue. Right now, he’s not dealing with quick-twitch receivers, but he’s going to have difficulties picking up tight ends/wideouts that cross his face at the next level.
Also, Kelly has some hip tightness and lacks fluidity at times, which limits his ability to turn and run; break down in space; and change direction. In fact, his change-of-direction speed is a primary concern. If Kelly is moving one way, it takes him an extra second to stop and readjust, which can be the difference between making a tackle and a back/receiver busting through the secondary. Kelly needs to be able to maintain momentum while improving his short-area quickness.
The South Carroll product has to improve his footwork too. He’s certainly not a plodder, but Kelly’s feet can get crossed up at times, while at others he seems a bit methodical or tentative. For example, Kelly can arrive a step late when closing on a receiver, but if he had just a bit more burst he’d be able to jump the route.
It would behoove Kelly to work on his field awareness in coverage as well, namely switching on and off receivers; identifying complex patterns; and the like. Not many teams South Carroll plays against throw deep, so Kelly hasn’t been tested much against top-flight, high-flying offenses. He has to prove he can turn and run, recover when beaten downfield, and offer over-the-top help.
Also, Kelly doesn’t have a standout vertical leap, so, even with his height, it’s going to be difficult to win in-air battles. Moreover, Kelly has to show he can high-point and out-physical intended targets for the ball.
Last but not least, Kelly has to continue working on his speed and strength. His upside could vastly improve if he becomes swifter and develops a more college-ready body.