The father of 2014 safety Todd Kelly played at Tennessee and in the NFL, but it might have been his mother who gave him the best advice about the recruiting process.
"She always told me to be patient [about getting offers]," Kelly said. "That's what I was doing, just waiting. I knew I had to keep working to get them. I had a plan and it paid off."
When February began, Kelly, a 6-feet, 180-pounder at the Webb School of Knoxville in Tennessee, was offerless. Wednesday night, Ole Miss became the sixth school to pull the trigger.
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"It's all a little shocking," Kelly admitted. "My dad has been telling me how he knew I was one of the top players in the country."
Auburn was the first to offer Kelly, doing so last weekend. Since then, Clemson, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have done the same.
"Now, there's a bunch of pressure on me," Kelly said. "My coach told me, 'People are going to come, just to see you play.' That's an honor and I'll be ready."
Kelly already is a two-year starter. As a sophomore, he recorded 55 tackles, four tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble. He also rushed for 700-plus yards and 13 touchdowns.
"I'm definitely a team player," he said. "That's how people would describe me."
As a safety, Kelly said he "likes to come up and lay some licks."
Kelly's father, Todd Kelly Sr., played outside linebacker for the Vols from 1989-92. The family moved back to Knoxville when the younger Kelly was about 5, he said.
"My dad coached me all the way through little league," Kelly said.
According to Kelly, he feels no pressure to match his father's success.
"At the same time, though, it's motivated me," Kelly said. "I want to be better than him. He tells me I'm better than him when he was in the 10th grade. I'm trying to stay as humble as possible. My work ethic is going to go up."
Although Kelly grew up a Vols fan, he said he also followed other programs. Of the schools recruiting him, he commented, "They're all equal."
Kelly recently visited Clemson. He also has been to Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
"This weekend I'm going to Alabama," he said. "Next weekend, I'm going to Auburn."