Kelly vying for scholarship at Oregon

Oregon preferred walk-on kicker/punter Jesse Kelly discusses what role he'll assume at Oregon and playing under pressure.

Jesse Kelly wants to leave his mark at Oregon.

The former St. Bonaventure kicker/punter was a late addition from the 2014 class, accepting a preferred walk-on spot with Oregon on March 10.

"I think it's a great spot for me," Kelly said. "I love punting. My averages were around tops in the nation last year. It's a really good spot for me right now, especially since I get the chance to earn a starting spot next year."

Coming into the spring, the Ducks were lacking depth at special teams with sophomore Matt Wogan possibly on the verge of handling field goals, kickoffs and punting. The Ducks have only one other punter on the roster in redshirt freshman Ian Wheeler.

In an effort to reduce Wogan's workload the Ducks brought in Kelly, who was the top special teams performer at their camp last summer. He averaged 44.6 yards per punt and had 57 of his 62 kickoffs go for touchbacks in 2013.

Kelly admitted that he will likely never kick a field goal at Oregon. But the 5-foot-11, 175-pound prospect is expecting to make his mark early as a punter and is vying for the starting job with a self reported 4.8 second hang time.

"I like coffin kicks," Kelly said. "Just getting people back is what I'm really good at."

Another factor driving Kelly is his preferred walk-on status. While getting the chance to play at the FBS-level made playing for Oregon an easy decision for him, the financial strain ensures he'll be doing whatever he can to earn a scholarship.

"It's $40,000 a year," Kelly said. "That's a lot, so I'm going to do my best to get a scholarship spot in the next year."

Kelly was in Eugene for the Oregon Spring Game earlier this month and was given a three-hour tour by Wogan to get him acclimated. While he got a small sample of what a game day is like, he knows it'll be different when the Ducks matchup with South Dakota on Aug. 30 at Autzen Stadium with a likely packed house. But pressure doesn't get to Kelly easily.

"I love the crowd," Kelly said. "I perform best under pressure so the more people the better for me."

Kelly will move up to Oregon at the end of July, in time for fall camp at the beginning of August. He's excited to reunite with freshman long snapper Tanner Carew after the two got to know each other at various skills camps last year.

"We've become pretty close," Kelly said. "He's the best out there. I haven't seen any better so it's great to have him."

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