Throughout the recruiting process Wichita (Kan.) East linebacker Xavier Kelly has kept his recruiting leanings close to the vest. That held true again today when he released a final eight devoid of any order. He did recently deviate from that convention, though, when asked how his Michigan visit experience stacked up to the others he had taken in.
“I think Michigan will be at the top,” said Kelly. “They’re up there. They’re one of the better ones.”
“I got a chance to hang with Coach Harbaugh a lot and he seems like he is going to be straightforward with you. He’s a straight shooter. He’s not going to sell you the dream. He’s really humble and he is real cool to talk to”
As impressed as he was with Michigan’s new headman there, was one aspect of the visit that stood out above the rest.
“Probably how big the stadium was,” he said.
The Big House was clearly more massive than he anticipated. The same couldn’t be said for his father Will, who hasn’t hidden the fact that he is a lifelong Michigan fan.
“It was great,” the elder Kelly said of the visit. “They had a lot of great things about it, but I was expecting big things from Michigan. I went in there kind of biased already, but it was real good. We had a good time. We kicked it with the coaches, had lunch with them, and toured the facilities.”
For dad the most memorable aspects of the time in Ann Arbor were his numerous interactions, including those that that he had with non-football staff members.
Said Mr. Kelly, “(I liked) the coaches and how close they were and how excited they were about starting something new… How optimistic they are looking towards the future, getting the program back where it used to be.”
“They were good guys. I think Coach Harbaugh is down to earth, he’s real personable. The position coaches there are real cool. It’s important because they made him seem like they really wanted him and needed him. I think every kid wants to feel like he is wanted and needed instead of just another player. There are some coaches that it’s just business for them and it ain’t really no big deal. That’s kind of a turn off. Everybody wants to feel wanted. The Michigan coaches made him feel like that.”
“We also met the basketball coach and he showed us around and we actually sat down in the team meeting room. It was a good experience. My younger son plays basketball too. He got to meet them and see how big time basketball is going to be.”
Of more immediate concern, though, was the role Xavier could play in helping the Wolverines achieve big time status on the gridiron again
“They showed me some film and they compared my film to (players in) the NFL,” the younger Kelly stated. “They want me to play the BUCK position, so I’ll be outside linebacker and defensive end. (The depth chart) looks good right now. Real good. But I think a lot of schools play their best players so I’m not too worried about that.”
“It looked like they could definitely use him,” Mr. Kelly added. “(He could) get some playing time there. That’s important to me. I know they want him to play like an outside linebacker during the first couple of downs with the defensive end on third down rushing the quarterback. It looks like he can get a lot of playing time there, which is what we want. (That and to) develop him as the best player he can be.”
The Wolverines still have a long way to go before they prove to the Kellys that they’re the best fit. However, proving worthy of his next cut may have already been accomplished.
“Hopefully (he’s down to) a top five before the season starts,” Mr. Kelly stated.
“I’m almost 100% sure (Michigan making it) is going to happen.”
The younger Kelly was once again a little more guarded.
“I still haven’t thought about that yet, (but) I think they have a great chance,” he said.