Meske sees 'great' things ahead for Kelly Jr.

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It's a formula that equals the image of what the Tennessee football program seeks in a student-athlete as coaches criss-cross the country for the best of the best.

Only, in this case, coach Butch Jones and his staff didn't have to step outside of the Orange & White family or even leave Knoxville.

Son of a father who is a former standout Volunteer and a mother who believes in having an educated backbone. How could Todd Kelly Jr., who also would sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" with the Webb chorus before games, go wrong?

On the prep level, he rarely did. The Scout four-star prospect finished his career as a Webb School Spartan with back-to-back TSSAA Division II Class A state championships and back-to-back Mr. Football Back of the Year awards.

"(Kelly)'s represented Webb School in a lot of different ways," Webb coach David Meske told InsideTennessee. "He's a great football player. He's a great student. He's got great character. He's a great singer. He does a lot of things. He's a well-rounded kid who I think is going to do some great things in football, but more importantly I think he's going to do some great things for other people in life."

The 12th-rated safety prospect in the nation from the 2014 signing class arrived on Tennessee's campus this week. Returning at his position as starters from the season prior are LaDarrell McNeil and Brian Randolph. Kelly figures to push both to improve and could surpass one as a starter at some point this fall or summer.

Regardless of Kelly's 40-yard dash time, understanding what the offense is doing and being able to rapidly adjust to spacing created by opposing skill players allows the now-Tennessee defensive back to arrive at the point of attack that much quicker than some others. Attribute some of that to growing up in a home built partially on is father's career on the gridiron that reached the highest level possible.

"(Kelly Jr.)'s been around it his whole life, so it's going to be way up there," Meske said. "He understands the game and that is part of what makes him a great player. He's a leader. He can sit back in the secondary. He can call the coverages. He can see what is happening and react in a hurry.

"I think being around the game from when he was young, I think that is an advantage. Big T.K. has been a great role model. I think his mom has been a great role model. When you talk about education and she's a middle school principal she's committed to education. The combination of having an ex-NFL player and an excellent educator has made him a well-rounded kid."

In 2013, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Kelly carried the football 130 times for 1,014 yards with 20 touchdowns. He also caught a pair of TD passes.

Scout national analyst Chad Simmons has seen Kelly play for championships in Cookeville and had this to say: "He has very good range in the secondary and he can cover a lot of ground. He is better when moving forward than he is when backing up in coverage. Against the run he is very good because of his size and ability to tackle. He has above average ball skills."

Discuss Kelly's future on The Hill with InsideTennessee analysts and subscribers by CLICKING HERE.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the Scout team July 2011.
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