Spartan Digest continues our look at the Cotton Bowl with a look at Rimington Trophy winning center Ryan Kelly of Alabama.

We continue our look at Michigan State's next opponent Alabama with a look at Rimington Trophy winner Ryan Kelly the nations top center this season.

Stuart McNair

PLAYER: Ryan Kelly
HEIGHT / WEIGHT: 6-5 / 297 lbs.
EXPERIENCE: 3-yr Starter

Ryan Kelly was a Scout four-star center coming out of West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West High School in the 2011 class.  Despite being in an area that Michigan State recruits hard, Kelly was not a player on they went after with Jack Allen being in the same class.

Kelly has been a starter since his sophomore season when he replaced All-American Barrett Jones.  This past season Kelly has not surrendered a sack and has only allowed four quarterback hurries while missing only eight assignments in 948 snaps.  What may be more impressive is the fact Kelly only committed one penalty in 862 snaps with no holding calls.

Considered the heart and soul of the Crimson Tide offensive line, Kelly has played well enough that some are projecting him to be drafted as high as the second to third round of NFL Draft while others have him in the fourth or fifth rounds.


Michigan State nose tackle Malik McDowell will be tested by Kelly but brings his length to the field as an advantage.  Add in defensive tackle Joel Heath who also matches up size wise with Kelly, and this could be the combo needed to challenge the 2015 Rimington Trophy Award winner.  The Spartans interior defensive line must get Kelly on his heels as we feel he’s a player that could struggle against the size of the Spartans inside.  If the Spartans can get Bama into throwing the ball more than running it, Kelly has shown to need some work on his footwork in these situations.


Having watched Kelly since he was a high school player, we’ve seen a player much like many that attend Michigan State.  He’s always been a kid that will play hard who also has knowledge of the game.  Tough and competitive, we are not surprised by the success he’s achieved at Alabama.  Despite his high ranking, Kelly was under recruited as he was coming off a knee injury his junior season.  Michigan State must be the hardest game for Kelly if the Spartans are looking to advance to the National Championship game.  If you hear Kelly’s name during the game, MSU is finding success.

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