Expectations remain high for recruiter Kelly

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While the Tennessee coaching staff has reeled in many of the top recruits for the Class of 2014, they haven't been without help as one of their verbal commitments has helped out the cause as well.

Scout four-star safety Todd Kelly Jr., a standout for Webb School of Knoxville, serves as an ambassador for the Vols program.

It goes without saying that Kelly was thrilled about this past week's recruiting success that included two more commitments — Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy three-star defensive end Derek Barnett and Garden City (Kansas) Community College four-star offensive tackle Dontavius Blair.

"It's huge for us to get in Dontavius and Derek; they are two big-time guys," Kelly told InsideTennessee. "I talked to both of them and tried to reel them in. I've talked to (Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones and he's really excited about who we've gotten so far."

Tennessee is merely points behind Alabama as having FOX Sports and Scout's No. 1-ranked recruiting class. However, laying off the gas pedal is not an option.

"We have to keep it going and keep the ball rolling," said Kelly, who declared back on March 10. "We still have some slots left and we have to fill those."

Last weekend the Vols legacy, son of former defensive back Todd Kelly, was in attendance at the Georgia game, as he only had to make the trek of 20 miles up the road to Neyland Stadium.

Kelly, whose father Todd Kelly Sr. played for the Volunteers as a defensive end a pair of decades ago before being a first-round NFL Draft selection, was on hand to cheer on the Vols against then-No. 6 Georgia.

"The game was really intense and despite the loss I think it really helped us out in recruiting," he said. "We had some big guys there like Josh Malone and Clifton Garrett. I'm still working on them now. It's pretty exciting."

While he continues to stay in contact with some of the next possible recruits to bring their talents to Tennessee, the Vols coaches were out this weekend as well.

Gallatin's Josh Malone is a top target of Kelly's.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie traveled to Georgia, perhaps the most important pipeline states, while wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni was in California recruiting.

"It's very important for the coaches to keep making their rounds in not only Tennessee but other states as well," Kelly Jr. said. "They are looking for pass rushers and with me at safety that's very important. So I'm looking for some defensive ends and defensive tackles to get back there. That's why it was so big to get Derek Barnett."

Kelly also had an update for IT on the process with five-star cornerback/receiver Adoree Jackson.

"He's just taking things slow right now," he said. "He said he is going to commit on signing day, but other than that that's all I know right now."

If he does get any news directly from those he is talking to about committing to Tennessee, he will let them be the ones to let Vol Nation know first.

"If I do know of any more future commitments I'm going to keep it a secret," he said. "I don't want to steal the thunder from them."

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound hard hitter has been a dominant force for Webb this season. The Spartans have won four straight games after dropping their first two.

Kelly did a little bit of everything in his team's 38-6 win over Battle Ground Academy this Friday on Senior Night. Not only did he have 120 yards of total offense (68 rushing, 52 receiving), he also scored three touchdowns and had six solo tackles.

"Our team is playing great right now," said Kelly, who has aspirations of helping the Spartans repeat as TSSAA Division II Class A state champions. "We keep getting better and better and we are focused on winning a state championship."


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