Darren Kelley is something of a latecomer to the recruiting game, but he's doing everything he can to make up for a late start. Some personal and family challenges kept him from getting much exposure on the recruiting trail, so he's been trying to make up for lost time.
"I'm originally from West Baltimore, but we moved around a lot when I was growing up," he said. "I was living with my mother, but when I turned 15 I decided to live with with my Dad. I wasn't getting as much exposure as I wanted, and my Dad has really worked with me. He's all about helping me prepare for college, and he's been doing everything he can to help me."
Kelley eventually landed at Owings Mills High School in Maryland, where he will play his second year this fall. He hopes the stability, along with a location close to Division I schools such as West Virginia and Maryland, will help him gather offers. Of course, he will have to impress coaches with his performance, and he believes he took a step toward that goal at WVU's camp on Saturday.
"I thought I did pretty good," he summed up. "This was my first time up there, and I wanted to make a good impression on Coach Roberts. I got to talk with him some, and it was cool to meet him. He helped me a lot with my technique, and worked with me to sink lower in my backpedal and turn my hips better. Those are technique things that make you better and make you stand out."
Kelley has been to a number of camps this year, including those at Rutgers, Stony Brook, Towson, James Madison and Maryland as well as several combines. He's also attending a tryout for the Maryland Crab Bowl team, which features all-starts from across the state, and hopes to visit more schools this fall.
During those visits, Kelley has been trying to show his abilities at strong safety. Due to small numbers at Owings Mills, he plays outside linebacker, but sees his future one level back on defense.
"I like defense, and I really like safety," he said. "That's where I play when I attend camps and combines. I play a little bit of everything at Owings Mills, but safety is where I think I am best."
Like many players at camps, Kelley will provide schools senior film to evaluate for a possible scholarship offer. That's his next step in the process that he hopes will end with an offer, and he knows that a lot is riding on his senior year performance. West Virginia will get a copy of his film, along with schools such as Rutgers, James Madison and East Carolina. From there, it's another waiting game, as Kelley joins many hoping that his camp work and senior year performance is enough to keep his college scholarship dream alive.