Keenan Kelly never would have guessed that his first FBS scholarship offer would come from a school so far from home.
The Cedar Grove, Ga., standout defensive lineman/linebacker had been hearing from Georgia and Georgia Tech, which was to be expected considering both schools are in his backyard. What took Kelly by surprise was the news his high school coaches delivered recently. He had caught the eye of Kevin Patrick, the new defensive line coach at North Texas.
“Coach Patrick saw my video and liked it,” Kelly said. “I was surprised to hear from a school in Texas. I talked to coach Patrick for the first time a couple of weeks ago.”
Patrick has been working to build a relationship with Kelly ever since. The two spoke on the phone on Tuesday night, the first day of the spring evaluation period. Kelly has not met Patrick in person yet, but is already planning a visit to UNT this summer.
“North Texas is the first school to offer,” Kelly said. “That means a lot to me.”
Kelly, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound standout could soon be hearing from several schools other than UNT and the in-state powers. One of Kelly’s coaches said that Boise State has called in the last few days.
Kelly finished with eight sacks last season and could project as a middle linebacker, outside linebacker or defensive end, depending on how he develops physically.
“North Texas is recruiting me as an outside linebacker,” Kelly said. “I played middle linebacker and defensive end last season, but I can make the transition. Outside linebacker is more of my natural position.”
Kelly finished with eight sacks last season and estimated that he had about 80 tackles on the year.
While Kelly is still in the early stages of the recruiting process, he said he already has a feeling for when he would like to commit.
“I want to make a decision during the summer, before school starts,” Kelly said.
Patrick is putting UNT in position to be a key player in Kelly’s recruiting process by jumping in a race the coaches at Cedar Grove have told Kelly should soon pick up.
“It will pick up,” Kelly said. “My coach said he has seen that a lot of times. The word will get out.”