Feeling like he gets a new high-profile offer every couple days, Wichita (KS) East defensive end Xavier Kelly has the right mix of size and speed college coaches are looking for to upgrade their defenses. And with each new opportunity that comes his way, the 6-5, 230-pound prospect admits the scholarship brings with it a sense of validation of the work he’s done over time.
“I think size and speed has a lot to do with it, especially at my position, along with getting off the ball and getting to the quarterback,” Kelly said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work and dedication.”
The devotion to improving his craft isn’t just on the football field either for the four-star recruit. A member of the school’s state championship, Kelly scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in the low post.
“Me playing basketball transfers to me playing football,” said Kelly. “I’ve been playing basketball longer.”
That kind of duel athleticism is one of the reasons why Wisconsin threw its name into the mix with a scholarship offer this week.
“They’ve been talking to me for the last couple weeks,” said Kelly, rated the No.21 defensive end and No.203 prospect by Scout.com. “It really wasn’t a surprise. They’ve been talking to me a lot about the offer. They said based off my size and speed, I could be a great factor for the team.”
Wisconsin is just one of over 25 scholarship Kelly is currently evaluating. While the Badgers are going up against the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and others, Kelly says the Badgers are in the mix because wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore – his recruiting coach – is a native of Wichita.
“They are on my radar, especially with the coach being from Wichita,” said Kelly. “That really has a lot to do with it. He went to South High School. We get along well, so that’s a big factor.”
Although he’s not planning on announcing his commitment until the U.S. Army All-American game in January, Kelly said he and his father will spend 20 days in June traveling throughout the country visiting schools. While the itinerary is still being worked out, Kelly knows they’ll likely be stopping at Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and a variety of SEC schools.
“I think it’s important to go on the visits to see how I feel with the programs and how comfortable I feel,” said Kelly.
Traveling by car and by air, the time away will give Kelly a chance to really break down schools with his lead researcher.
“My dad is really helpful,” said Kelly. “He does a good job of doing a lot of research on schools. He finds out who they are recruiting, who they have leaving, what are my chances of playing as a freshman or if they want me to redshirt. He’s been a big help.”
Kelly hopes to come out with a top five or eight before the start of his senior season.