Making his own name

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You know you're a big-time college football prospect when you have more scholarship offers than candles on your next birthday cake.

Clearly, Todd Kelly Jr., is a big-time prospect. The 16-year-old rising junior at Knoxville's Webb School already has 18 scholarship offers with many, more on the way.

"I don't know when I'm going to narrow that down," he said during Saturday's IMG 7 on 7 Qualifier at Knoxville's U.S. Cellular Complex. Kelly didn't participate in the event, sponsored by Next Level, so he had ample time to discuss the challenging task of paring his list of suitors to a more manageable number.

"I don't have a certain date when I'm going to make a top 10 or a top five," he said. "I'm just going to give every school a fair chance and see where I want to go. That's when I'll know."

As Tennessee fans are well aware, Todd Kelly Sr., was a standout defensive end for the Vols, earning first-team All-SEC recognition as a senior captain in 1992 and going in Round 1 of the 1993 NFL Draft. He is not pushing his son to follow him to The Hill, however.

"He just tells me to not worry about where he or my mom or my friends want me to go ... just make sure it's a gut feeling and that I want to go there," said Junior, known among teammates as TK. "My mom (Renee) also went to UT. My mom and dad met there. My sister (Clarke) goes to Alabama."

If TK wants to attend Alabama, he'll get a free ride. Tide coach Nick Saban was among the first head coaches to offer a scholarship to the 6-foot, 180-pound running back/defensive back. Tuscaloosa is on this summer's camp itinerary.

"I'm going to camps at Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson, Vanderbilt and Florida," Kelly said. "All of them are in June except for Florida's, which is July. It's their Friday Night Lights camp, and they want me to come down there."

Kelly has a big-time reputation as a defensive back that stems from the fact he recorded 65 stops, four tackles for loss, a sack and an interception as a Webb School sophomore last fall. He also registered 72 carries for 778 yards (10.8 per carry) and 13 touchdowns, plus four receptions for 57 yards. He even completed 2 of 2 passes for 72 yards and a TD.

Kelly's versatility helped Webb reach the TSSAA Div. II Class A state semifinals in 2011. He helped the Spartans win the TSSAA title as a freshman in 2010.

Since 7 on 7 camps consist exclusively of passing, TK expects to refine his one-on-one coverage skills at some camps this summer.

"I love to compete, so I want to get out there and prove I'm the best," he said. "You can't get better unless you work hard, so that's what I'm going to do. I'll work on my technique, see how the coaches coach and see where I want to go."

Like his dad, Junior brings the wood when he delivers a blow.

"I'm a very physical player," TK said. "I like to make hits. I just try to make plays. My defensive back coach, Robby Collier, just says, 'Get out there and make plays.' My head coach, David Meske, just says, 'Make me look good.' I guess that's how I play ... to try and make him look good.'"

He's clearly succeeding on that score.


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