AK47 – second options

Houdini Jackson has been a busy camper this spring, taking every rep with the first team defense at the small defensive end, or "REB" position. He's had to out of necessity as Kai Ellis is still rehabbing his sore knees and Anthony Kelley toils in his studies.

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The one they call "AK-47" has been holed up with textbooks this April, all in hopes of returning to Husky Stadium for one final season of football in the fall.

"My contract was to have three seasons (of football) and four years to graduate. I'm on schedule to graduate but I have a pretty demanding academic schedule this quarter," said Kelley.

Because of his workload, he was only able to practice once per week this spring. One class requires him to read 10 books this quarter and another requires him to crank out a 30-page thesis. Add to that an Astronomy class and you've got one busy student.

"I had to shift my priorities as far as what was most important this quarter. I work out in the morning and I lift and run," said Kelley. "I'm not missing much, except for the contact. But right now I'm getting my academics done so I can concentrate next fall on my final year."

Kelley entered Washington as a partial qualifier, the first in the history of the football team. He left high school with a learning disability but he's been able to overcome it to the point where he'll earn his degree this spring if all goes well this quarter.

"When I came here I had a goal in mind. I had a goal to make it to the league my first three years," said Kelley. Now he's changed his sights and refocused.

"It was a good thing because I was able to learn how to adapt to a college environment. Through tutors and work I learned how my academics could really benefit me. I learned about my second options."

Those second options include a world of opportunities for Kelley, who traveled to South Africa last year and experienced the poverty and hardships of a third world country up close and personal. It made an impact on him that he's not forgotten.

"I want to go back there and help someday. It really gives you perspective on what's important in life."

Kelley does miss the gridiron, particularly his teammates. "It's tough because I miss my boys and the whole environment. Every time I see them now it's like I'm playing catch-up, see what they are doing on the field, but there's a sacrifice I need to make right now."

"But I'm going to be there for them during two-a-days and we'll be able to kick it off in the fall."

Now Kelley, who once was doubted that he would ever make it into Washington, finds himself to be the very definition of the words Student Athlete.

"I think that's the biggest difference. When I came here, I was just an athlete. I guess that's just maturity," said Kelley with a laugh.

"I've just grown. The first few years in college definitely take a toll on you and as far as my transformation, it's been amazing. For what I am now and what I was. I laugh about it every time I think about it."

The highlight of his career thus far was playing in the Rose Bowl, a stadium that he grew up down the street from and played some high school games.

"The Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl. It speaks for itself. It's the Granddaddy of them all. Just to be there for the second time from high school and to have my family there and to have them be a part of all this was a great deal."

Kelley now is a married family man and shakes his head about how things have changed from his years in Altadena, California. "It's a great thing."

He still has aspirations of maybe playing on Sundays. "I think about that. It's going to be rough walking away from all of it, but hopefully I can do it the right way when I make it into the league."

But now he'll have a college degree to fall back on if he doesn't make it. After this quarter of school, Kelley can look ahead to the fall.

"You're going to see Anthony coming off the edge and just getting after the quarterback. My coaches want me to just get after the quarterback, use my athletic ability to make plays on the field," said Kelley.

"Going back there (to Michigan) where my Mom's at and my family is at is going to be exciting, especially going to a school that I verbally committed to out of high school. It's going to be great and hopefully we can come out with a victory."

Win or lose in Ann Arbor next August, Anthony Kelley made the right choice – hitting the books.

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