2015 draft prospect: QB Taylor Kelly

In a Pac-12 Conference loaded with QB talent, Taylor Kelly might be the most underrated. With a healthy completion percentage, his athleticism and ability to throw on the run, Kelly has a chance to really make an impression in 2015. Get the in-depth background, statistics and scouting report on the Arizona State QB.

Taylor Kelly

Arizona State University Sun Devils
Eagle, Idaho
Eagle High School


Quick – name one of the more electrifying quarterbacks in the country not getting the media attention he rightfully deserves? If your answer is Taylor Kelly, you are correct. You really can't blame the Pac-12 Conference media scribes for the lack of attention this Sun Devil has received. One look around this quarterback-rich league and you can see why most quarterback-needy National Football League teams will have their scouts piling up frequent flyer miles going around to conference matchups in 2014.

Kelly does not seem to mind the lack of notice from the media, as long as the NFL decision-makers know all about him. The Pac-12 Conference will likely see most of the "ink" go to other passers, as the league also features probable NFL stars like Marcus Mariota (Oregon), regarded by many as the best quarterback prospect in the country, Brett Hundley (UCLA), one of the most athletic talents taking snaps under center and Sean Mannion (Oregon State), the second-rated passer in the senior class entering the 2014 schedule.

Other Pac-12 Conference quarterbacks who will under the watchful eyes of professional scouts include Stanford's Kevin Hogan, USC's Cody Kessler and Connor Halliday of Washington State. With that bevy of rifle-armed passers, Kelly, despite just 29 games and 27 starts under his belt, ranks eighth among the nation's quarterbacks returning to school next year with a pass completion percentage of .6458, which is also the current school career-record and fourth among the passers returning to the Pac-12.

Kelly's 7,853 yards in total offense is seventh among the active quarterbacks at the major college level, third among those returning to the league in 2014 and good for fourth on the ASU all-time record list. His 57 touchdown tosses are sixth-best among the active FBS players, fourth in the Pac-12's current crop of quarterbacks and fifth-best in the history of Arizona State football. He has the 11th-best passing efficiency rating among the players expected to line up behind center in 2014, as that mark of 148.33 is the current record at the school.

It took Kelly two seasons of relative inactivity before he was given an opportunity to start at Arizona State. He had originally signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Nevada after high school, where he was expected to replace San Francisco 49ers standout Colin Kaepernick. When the Wolf Pack also signed current starter, Cody Fajardo, Kelly opted out of his commitment and enrolled at ASU, where he red-shirted in 2010 and then saw just mop-up duties in two brief appearances in 2011.

Kelly first began to receive attention while quarterbacking the Eagle High School Mustangs, as Scout.com wisely recognized his hidden talents when they named him the best football player in the state of Idaho during his senior season in 2009. He would later become the only player from his state to sign a national letter of intent to attend an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision BCS school.

After getting out of his commitment to run Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault's "pistol" offense at the University of Nevada, Kelly accepted a scholarship offer from Arizona State on Jan. 17, 2010. Two seasons of little playing time under former head coach Dennis Erickson was not what the quarterback expected when he changed his college allegiance.

When Erickson was replaced by Todd Graham, Kelly was suddenly thrust into the starting quarterback role he had patiently waited for. The new coach had previous success turning around distressed programs at Rice and Tulsa before a less-than-spectacular single campaign at Pittsburgh in 2011. Coming off a 6-7 record in 2011, the Sun Devils certainly could have used "new blood" at the head coach, coordinator and quarterback positions.

Kelly's career would change on a very important decision – Mike Norvell elected to follow Graham to Arizona State, where the current offensive coordinator would soon become a key figure in engineering the team's high-octane offensive attack. Under Norvell, Kelly would lead a balanced and explosive offense in his first year as a starter, as the Sun Devils set school marks at the quarterback, running back and tight end positions.

The 2012 Sun Devils became the 14th team in NCAA FBS bowl history to score 60-plus points in a bowl game (62 vs. Navy in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl). Of the 464.5 total yards per game ASU averaged that season, 205.5 came on the ground, representing the second-best mark in the past 25 seasons at the university (since 1988). Nowhere was Norvell's influence felt more than at the quarterback position, where Kelly set the school record for completion percentage (.6713) and threw for the second-most touchdown passes (29) in ASU annals.

Norvell's quick-strike offense was ideal for the highly mobile Kelly, who not only hit on 241-of-359 tosses for 3,039 yards (seventh on the school season-record list), but kept his miscues to a minimum, throwing just nine interceptions. The red-shirt sophomore also toted the ball 134 times for 516 yards and a score, finishing with 3,555 yards in total offense, the fourth-best season numbers produced by a Sun Devil.

Kelly helped the team produce 58 scoring drives of three minutes or less in 2012. The team would compile an 8-5 record and the future looked much brighter than it did at the end of the 2011 campaign, especially with Kelly being embraced by the coaching staff, rather than being a mere afterthought under the previous regime.

In 2013, Kelly continued to ascend up the school record charts and the Sun Devils' fortunes also continued to rise, as they recorded a 10-4 record and earned a berth in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game. The team played with a "strike first, strike fast" type of approach on offense. They would score first in 10 games, compiling a 9-1 record when they accomplished that feat.

The quick-hitting offense became a staple of the Todd Graham-coached Sun Devils, with 112 of ASU's 155 offensive scoring drives coming in three minutes or less (72.3 percent). That being said, ASU also had 15 scoring drives of four minutes or longer in 14 games last season, compared to having three such drives in the entirety of 2012.

Nevertheless, ASU's high-powered offense still resonated with the high number of quick scoring drives, scoring in three minutes or less on 62 of the team's 89 scoring drives in 2013 (70.0 percent). There was a direct correlation between the time of ASU's scoring drives in 2013 and the points per scoring drive as well. When the team scored in three minutes or less, it averaged 6.2 points per drive. When the drive lasted longer than three minutes, their average dropped to 5.4 points per drive. In the Sun Devils' 14 drives in 2013 lasting longer than four minutes, the team averaged just 4.3 points per score.

The university's fans started calling the Sun Devils' offense "TKO" (Taylor Kelly's Offense), as the Sun Devils quarterback would become the school's record holder in completion percentage and efficiency threw for 28 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in 2013. In 14 games, Kelly had 3,635 passing yards and averaged 259.6 yards per game, both ranked in the top five in school history. He is just the second Sun Devil to have multiple seasons with 3,000+ passing yards behind only Andrew Walter.

In 2013, Kelly moved into the top five on seven school season-record lists, including passing yards, passing yards per game, completions, attempts, total offense, total offense, yards per game, and points responsible for. Statistically, the team relied heavily on Kelly's ball protection, as ASU is 6-8 with Kelly as the starter when he throws an interception, compared to a 12-1 record when he doesn't – the lone loss coming in the Pac-12 title game vs. Stanford.

All six of the victories with interceptions came in 2013, showing Kelly's improved ability to overcome adversity at the hands of turnovers. He finished the season ranked 13th in the nation in points responsible for with 222 (28 passing touchdowns, nine rushing), breaking the previous school record in the category of 198 previously set by Mike Pagel in 1981.

Kelly's ability to extend plays has been exceptional ever since he took over quarterback duties, as demonstrated by his 516 net rushing yards on 134 attempts in 2012 – a mark skewed by the fact that sacks count vs. his rushing total. If you take out sacks, Kelly would have led the team in yardage and yards per carry with 690 net rushing yards last season on 103 carries (6.7 ypc).

Sacks aside in 2013, Kelly had 826 rushing yards on 134 attempts (6.2 ypc) and was on fire in the last nine games with nine rushing touchdowns while rushing for 599 yards (sacks excluded) on 106 carries (5.7 yards per rush). Those nine touchdowns were notable as
Kelly had just one rushing touchdown in 18 games prior to the current streak.

Kelly was second on the team with 43 rushes for first down, trailing only Marion Grice (45). He was also second on the team in "explosive plays" on the ground (rushes of 12 or more yards) with 18 in 2013, trailing only Marion Grice's 19. Additionally, Kelly has now punted 14 times in his career, with ten of those being downed inside of the 20-yard line, including a 2013 season-long 50-yarder vs. Oregon State.

Scouts attending 2014 Arizona State games will likely see Kelly as a quarterback who can scramble and throw on the run with accuracy. He knows how to adjust his delivery, as needed, and shows a keen knowledge of the offense, scanning the field to locate a secondary target rather than eyeball his primary receiver for too long. He also has the body control and movement skills to avoid pressure, as offensive line protection break-downs were the result of the him being sacked 70 times in 27 games as a starter.

Kelly has the footwork and drive-back speed to reach his throwing point and he has a compact delivery motion, consistently keeping the ball up. There is no question that he can throw the deep ball and is very good at putting velocity behind select tosses. He shows touch, accuracy and timing from the pocket, but he can also hit receivers in stride when he is on the move.

Kelly plays with good awareness and always seems to know where all his targets are, as he reminds our staff of former Sun Devils QB Jake Plummer. Despite throwing with 21 interceptions, he is not the type that will force the ball into traffic, as his interception avoidance percentage of .248 (21-of-847 attempts) is currently the school all-time record. He generates nice trajectory and while he puts a lot of effort behind his long throws, he has the arm strength to deliver when the team needs that "home run" ball to ignite the offense.

During the offseason, Kelly and family members are usually found at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, spending their summers drag racing. Addorning his car are Arizona State Sun Devils decals and the racing machine's number is 10, Kelly's football jersey number.

Even with his fantastic career so far at ASU, he remains out of the limelight, where the national media is concerned. Kelly seems unfazed. "I'm quiet," he said. "I'm not very outgoing." The studious Kelly does have a wild hair that makes a lot of noise – drag racing to "get that adrenaline rush." Last year, he posted the fourth-fastest time (129.83 mph) in the Sport Compact Qualifiers at a track near his hometown, according to AzCentral.com.

On the drag racing circuit, Kelly will just continue to drive like he was part of the "Dukes of Hazard." Although he would like to go on to the pros, if that does not work out, he has his life planned out. His degree in educational studies offers him the opportunity "to coach later on, work with kids, kind of give back to the community," he explained.

Pac-12 Network analyst Rick Neuheisel said Kelly has what it takes. "I think Taylor Kelly is going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country," Neuheisel told Brad Cesmat on a ‘Big Guy on Sports' radio interview. For a program that seemingly has had an unsettled quarterback situation every spring before Graham and Norvell turned the reigns over to Kelly that is good news. With his verified 4.58-second clocking in the 40-yard dash, the "drag-racing" quarterback might be telling opponents on the gridiron and the drag race circuit – Catch me if you can.

Kelly has appeared in 21 games at Arizona State, starting his last 27 contests, as he completed 547-of-847 passes (64.58%) for 6,705 yards, 57 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, averaging 231.21 aerial yards per game…added 1,148 yards with 10 scores on 308 carries (3.73 ypc) and on 1,155 offensive plays, he amassed 7,853 yards in total offense and was responsible for 67 touchdowns…Also punted 14 times for 526 yards (37.57 avg), as three attempts went for touchbacks, one was ruled a fair catch and 10 were downed inside the 20-yard line…Despite being sacked a total of 70 times for losses of 392 yards, Kelly has turned the ball over just once on five fumbles…Also posted three solo tackles.
School Career-Record Results…Kelly's 1,148 yards rushing is 243 yards from breaking the school all-time rushing record for quarterbacks (1,390 yards by Mark Malone, 1977-79)… His 6,705 yards passing rank sixth in ASU history behind Andrew Walter (10,617; 2001-04), Rudy Carpenter (10,491; 2005-08), Jake Plummer (8,827; 1993-96), Ryan Kealy (6,912; 1997-2000) and Danny White (6,717; 1971-73)…His 847 pass attempts are seventh on the school record chart and his 547 pass completions placed fifth, surpassed by Rudy Carpenter (799). Andrew Walter (777), Jake Plummer (632) and Brock Osweiler (620; 2009-2011)…Set the school all-time record with a pass completion percentage of .6458. The only ASU players to complete at least 60% of their attempts are Rudy Carpenter (799-of-1,309; .610) and Brock Osweiler (372-of-620; .600)…Kelly also holds the school record with the lowest interception percentage ever by a Sun Devil (.0248; 21-of-847 passes). The previous best was .0267 by Rudy Carpenter (35-of-1309; 2005-08)…Ranks fifth in ASU history with 57 touchdown passes, placing behind Andrew Walter (85), Rudy Carpenter (81), Jake Plummer (65) and Danny White (64)…His passing efficiency rating of 148.33 topped the old school record of 137.3 by Jake Plummer (1993-96)…Participated in 1,155 offensive plays, fourth on the Sun Devils chart behind Jake Plummer (1,621), Andrew Walter (1,591) and Rudy Carpenter (1,580)…Kelly's 7,853 yards in total offense is surpassed by only Rudy Carpenter (10,196), Andrew Walter (10,142) and Jake Plummer (8,711) in the school record book, as his average of 270.79 yards per game in total offense topped the previous ASU mark of 216.9 yards per game by Rudy Carpenter…Has gained at least 300 yards in total offense 13 times, breaking the old school record of 12 by Andrew Walter (2001-04).
School Season-Record Results…Kelly is just one of three players at ASU to ever attempt at least 450 passes in a season (484 in 2013), joining Brock Osweiler (516 in 2011) and Andrew Walter (483 in 2002)…He also joined Brock Osweiler (326 in 2011) as the only Sun Devils to complete at least 300 passes (302 in 2013) in a campaign…His pass completion percentage of .6713 in 2012 exceeded the old school annual record of .634 by Rudy Carpenter (156-of-228 in 2005)…His 29 touchdown passes in 2012 tied Mike Pagel (1981) for second on the school season-record list behind Andrew Walter (30 in 2004), as Kelly's 28 scoring strikes in 2013 tied Walter (2002) for fourth place on that chart…Holds the third (3,635 in 2013) and seventh (3,039 in 2012) spots on the team's passing yardage chart, joining Andrew Walter (3,877 in 2002; 3,150 in 2004; 3,044 in 2003) as the only Sun Devils to produce multiple 3,000-yard passing campaigns. The school record is 4,036 yards by Brock Osweiler in 2011…His passing efficiency rating of 159.88 in 2012 not only ranked second in the nation that year, but established a new Arizona State record (minimum 300 pass attempts), surpassing the old mark of 145.09 by Rudy Carpenter in 2007…Set the ASU record by taking 657 snaps under center in 2013, breaking the previous total of 599 by Brock Osweiler in 2011...Kelly also holds the fourth spot on that list with 493 snaps in 2012 (Andrew Walter is third with 539 in 2002)…One of just two Sun Devils to ever gain at least 4,000 yards in total offense in a season, his 4,243 yards in 2013 topped the old mark of 4,126 by Brock Osweiler in 2011…Kelly also secured fourth place on that list with 3,555 yards in 2012 (Andrew Walter is third with 3,661 in 2002)…His average of 303.07 yards per game in total offense in 2013 ranks behind Brock Osweiler's 317.4-yard average in 2011 on the school chart…Recorded nine 300-yard games in total offense in 2013, breaking the previous record of six by Brock Osweiler in 2011.
School Game-Record Results…Kelly's 55 pass attempts vs. Stanford in 2013 tied Jeff Van Raaphorst (vs. Arizona, 1986) for 10th on the ASU game list…Completed 87.0% of his passes (20-of-23) vs. Washington State in 2012 and 89.5% of his attempts (17-of-19) vs. Navy in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, breaking the old school game-record of 84.2% by Jeff Van Raaphorst (16-of-19) vs. UCLA in 1986…Threw for five touchdowns in each of the Colorado (2012), Sacramento State (2013) and Washington State (2013) games. The only players with more scoring strikes in a contest at the school are Mike Pagel (seven vs. Stanford, 1981), Andrew Walter (six vs. UCLA, 2004) and Danny White (six vs. New Mexico, 1971).

Kelly was named to The NFL Draft Report's All-American Super Sleeper Team, as that scouting information service considers the Sun Devil to be the Pac-12 Conference's most underrated offensive player…Was featured on the Pac-12 Network's "Under Center" show, hosted by analyst Rick Neuheisel. In the episode, Neuheisel discussed with the Sun Devil what it takes to excel at the most important position on the field, while showcasing Kelly's intangibles and leadership traits. Kelly was the first of five league quarterbacks to tape segments for the show.

2008 Season…Missed two games late in his junior season after suffering a leg fracture.

4.84 in the 40-yard dash (March, 2014)…4.58 in the 40-yard dash (2010)…1.68 10-yard dash…2.69 20-yard dash…4.28 20-yard shuttle…6.91 three-cone drill…31-inch vertical jump…9'01" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times…31¼-inch arm length…
9 ¾-inch hands.

Kelly attended Eagle (Id.) High School, playing football for Mustangs head coach Paul Peterson…Scout.com named him the best football player in the state of Idaho during his senior season in 2009…Later became the only player from his state to sign a national letter of intent to attend an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision BCS school…Took over the quarterback reins during an injury-shortened (broken leg in Week Ten) junior season, as he guided the Mustangs to a third-place finish in the state polls, as they compiled an 11-1 record. The youngster connected on 119-of-192 passes (62.0%) for 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns, despite missing time due to an injury. He also carried 77 times for 423 yards (5.5 ypc) with five scores that year…As a senior, Kelly received Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year honors, as the All-State and All-Southern Idaho/Division I selection again led the Eagles to an 11-1 record as they captured the Class 5A State Championship, after a dramatic 22-21 win over Capital High. In that contest, the quarterback ran for 103 yards with two touchdowns and passed for 161 yards and a score. Overall, he completed 182-of-265 passes for 2,509 yards and 22 touchdowns. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 1,005 yards and 10 touchdowns on 156 carries…Kelly threw for at least 200 yards in four contests during the 2009 campaign…He also saw action as a defensive back, recording 35 tackles (29 solos) with 11 pass deflections, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal…Some of his highlights during his senior season included rushing for a season-high 162 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns and 200 passing yards with two more scores vs. Meridian Rocky Mountain High…Also threw for a season-high 261 yards on 19-of-28 passing vs. Boise Centennial High School. He tied his season-high of three touchdown passes and added 252 aerial yards vs. Boise Borah High and collected 144 yards on 13 carries and 126 yards with three touchdown passes vs. Boise High School during his final prep season.

Kelly is a Business major, with an emphasis in Educational Studies…Hoping to coach when his playing days are over, he often volunteers with youth football programs…Born 3/30/91…Resides in Eagle, Idaho.

20114 4100 310 7.757.75 00 15.5
2012359 24167.13 303929 8.4712.61 92.51 233.77
2013484 30262.4 363528 7.5112.04 122.48 259.64
TOTAL847 54764.58 670557 7.9212.26 212.48 231.21

20112 21 2424 024
201213 13134 5163.85 132
201314 14173 6083.51 944
TOTAL29 27308 11483.73 1044

20112 531 2455 011 27.5
201213 4933039 5163555 307.21 273.46
201314 6573635 6084243 376.46 303.07
TOTAL29 11556705 11487853 676.8 270.79

20128 30337.88 049 10 70
20136 22337.17 050 21 31
TOTAL14 52637.57 050 31 101

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