football

Kelly has plenty of options

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Darian Kelly is a man with many options.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound athlete from Girard, Kan., not only is one of the top football prospects in the Sunflower State, he's also one of the area's best basketball prospects to. At this early stage, he's getting plenty of interest in both sports, but more interest has been focused on his efforts on the gridiron.
And that's both a good thing and a bad thing if you ask Kelly.
"I've told all of these schools that basketball was my No. 1 option, and if that option exists then I'll take it," he said.
"There are some other schools talking to me, but with all the D-I football attention that's what I've been focusing on. I wanted to play basketball for a Big 12 school, but so far it's been all Missouri Valley and mid-major schools showing interest.
"I have no offers yet for basketball, just interest from places like Illinois State and Wichita State. But that doesn't seem like an option for me right now."
That's because despite all his heroics in hoops – which include a strong run in the Class 4A state tournament this past season – football is where he's earned scholarship offers from.
"I have offers from K-State and Kansas as of right now in football," Kelly said. "I've heard from OU, Missouri, Arkansas, and most of the Big 12 schools really. K-State, Kansas, and recently Oklahoma has been contacting me a lot."
The offers alone are impressive enough, but when you consider that most schools are recruiting Kelly off of his sophomore film, it's even more amazing.
"I broke my fibula the third or fourth game of my season," All of these schools are offering based off my sophomore film and a couple games of my junior year. I've gotten bigger and stronger since then."
But when he was out there on the field in 2007, he was still impressive enough in limited action to earn second-team all-league. In basketball, Kelly was the only unanimous pick in the entire all-league in 2006 and 2007.
"KU is looking at me for free safety," Kelly said. "K-State is looking at me for both sides of the ball. They're going to use me more on the offensive side of the ball as a slot receiver or something like that. And OU is looking as a free safety, along with Missouri. Arkansas wanted me as both sides of the ball, too."
Kelly said between AAU basketball tournaments and training for his football team, he will hit a few camps this summer and that might help him get a better idea on what he wants to do with his college decision.
"I am supposed to go to the OU camp and they're supposed to decide after that if they are going to offer me," Kelly said. "Missouri wants me to go, too, and they might offer. Arkansas said the same. They haven't really come out and said they're going to offer, but they've all been interested in getting me in camp and getting a look at me.
"There's the one camp at Oklahoma, and the same thing at KU. That's what I'm going to. Missouri just wants me to come to the campus and talk to me and see me and stuff. Arkansas is the same as Missouri. I went to the Real Deal tournament in Arkansas and the plan was to stop by Arkansas to see their coaches and stuff but they weren't there so I'm going to have to go back there."
Early on, though, it looks like Kansas and assistant coach Joe Bob Clements has done a tremendous job with Kelly. The Jayhawks are No. 1 on his list, and it also doesn't hurt he grew up a huge KU basketball fan.
"If I had to make the decision right now it would be Kansas," Kelly said. "KU is probably my best team. They're close to home and close to family and friends. I would have to say they're my top school right now.
"KU's coaches are the most impressive. They seem really professional, and they were the first school to offer me. I mean early recruitment plays a role."
Kelly would like to make an early decision if he can fit it in his hectic basketball schedule.
"The plan was to commit by the end of the summer," Kelly said. "I have basketball tournaments. If I haven't heard anything for basketball or anything like that, I'll commit to whichever school by the end of the summer. "My football coach has helped me out a lot throughout the recruiting process."
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