Wichita (Kan.) East defensive end Will Kelly was excited when he received word of his Michigan offer early last month, but a member of his family was even more so.
“I was ecstatic,” Kelly’s father Will stated. “It almost brought me to tears (laughter). It caught me by surprise. I knew a lot of big schools wanted him, but Michigan is like my favorite school ever. I grew up actually playing against Jalen Rose and Chris Webber in high school. I grew up with the Fab Five and back in the Bo Schembechler days.”
“I (played high school football) for a year, but it was mainly basketball for me. I (played) basketball and ran track. I actually went to visit Michigan and that’s probably when the love for Michigan (grew). I think it was in ’89. Actually Tyrone Wheatley was there when I visited them. He is a year younger than me. My coach from Central High School took a group of us to Michigan and we saw a basketball game and hung out for a while with the players. I think the love for Michigan came from there.”
The elder Kelly never thought his childhood favorite would become an option for his son. As a matter of fact he didn’t think any out-of-region schools would emerge as possibilities.
“(All the attention) was surprising,” Mr. Kelly stated. “He’s a great player, but they had a mediocre year. I was looking at the programs that were offering, Kansas State, Nebraska… and I said ‘K-State might be the best bet. Next year looks like it is going to (consist of more growing pains) as far as the high school team.’ I was like,’ if we’re going to count on next year, then (Kansas State) will probably be the best we get.’ Then he started getting (other) offers. He did well at the Nike camp, (then came) phone calls, networking and things started blowing up from there.”
The buzz about the four-star defensive end is showing no signs of dying down. Florida State is the latest to jump into the mx. As more and more schools see his film, additional offers will likely follow.
“He has a very good first step and he’s strong,” Mr. Kelly said of his son. “He can get the blocker off him easily and his pursuit is extraordinary, because he’s fast. He’s the fastest defensive end in the nation right now. He is very well built. He’s 6-5.5, he’s probably 238 now and it is all muscle. He’s good. He’s going to be ready.”
He plans to prove that on the Midwest stage at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Michigan in June. After competing on the 11th and 12th he and his dad will head over to Ann Arbor for the first time on the 13th. It’s a visit that dad is anticipating as much as his son.
Said Mr. Kelly, “I talked to the other coaches and I told them the whole Wheatley story and I’m looking forward to seeing him once I get there.”
“I have a lot of family there too. That’s where the majority of my family is at.”
That the Kelly’s have relatives not far from Ann Arbor is definitely a feather in the Wolverines’ cap.
“Wherever he goes we want to make sure that we have strong support system for him and that’s one of the things that we’re going to be looking for this summer. Michigan has that and it is easy for me to get to as well. He has a sister in Michigan and plenty of cousins.”
That, however, doesn’t guarantee that the former Kansas State commit will wind up donning the winged-helmet. There are many other criteria he will consider and many other visits he will take
“Definitely the academic aspect of (the decision) is important, but most of these top end schools are pretty good academically,” said Mr. Kelly. “The family situation of how well he would fit in there and the coaches (is also important). I want him to be the best he can be and I don’t know how he good he can be, but however good it is, I want him to get to the peak of his potential.”
“I’ve got a schedule (of unofficial visits) already made up. We’re going to see Missouri, Arkansas, LSU, Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Florida State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, and Clemson.”
After that whirlwind tour over the next few months the Kellys believe the talented youngster’s recruitment will have much more definition.
“We’ll probably have it narrowed down to at least eight schools, maybe five schools by the end of June and we’re going to make some official visits. “
“He is selected to the Army All-American game and we decided to make the decision then. “