KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — This is a big week for Todd Kelly Jr., to say the least.
Top247 senior safety Todd Kelly Jr. of Webb School of Knoxville (Tenn.) received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey during a ceremony Tuesday at his school.
The Top247 senior safety from Webb School of Knoxville won Tennessee’s Division II-A Mr. Football Back award for the second consecutive year Monday in Murfreesboro, and he and his Webb team will play for their third Division II-A state championship in four years Thursday at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.
Kelly, who has been committed to Tennessee since March, officially added another major accolade Tuesday when he was presented with his jersey for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Kelly, the son of former Vols standout Todd Kelly Sr. “It’s always been my dream to play in the All-American game, especially when I was little. I looked and saw those players on TV, so it’s pretty cool to think that it’s actually happening.
“I went from the Mr. Football banquet yesterday to this, and then I have the state championship on Thursday, so I have a lot of things going on and rambling through my mind. But it’s pretty surreal.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Kelly said he was invited “about a year ago” to play in the national all-star game, which will be held Jan. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, but that didn’t take away from the thrill of Tuesday’s jersey presentation.
Family, coaches, teammates and classmates who filled Webb’s Bishop Center for the Performing Arts gave Kelly a standing ovation at one point during the ceremony.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s kind of just surprising, just with all the students and classmates and things like that, and I got a standing ovation. I didn’t think I would get that, so that was pretty cool,” said Kelly, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 66 overall player in the 247Sports Composite, which equally weighs prospect rankings and ratings from major recruiting media outlets.
“I just love that I’m getting this opportunity.”
Kelly is one of three Tennessee commitments who have been selected to play in the game, along with five-star athlete Jalen Hurd of Hendersonville, Tenn., and four-star linebacker Kevin Mouhon of Norcross, Ga., although Hurd is not expected to participate after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in September.
“I’m going to be wearing (jersey) number 6,” Kelly said. “Hopefully I’ll be wearing that at UT, as well. It’s been my number since freshman year — coach (David) Meske gave it to me — so I take it with pride, and I’ll be wearing it pretty strong. And we also have some UT commits that are playing down there with me.
“Hopefully we’ll have another one here tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens,” Kelly added, referring to Top247 wide receiver Josh Malone of Gallatin, Tenn., a Tennessee target who’s scheduled to announce his college decision Wednesday.
Kelly said he attended all but one of Tennessee’s home games this season — he was out of town for the Vols’ loss to Auburn on Nov. 9 — and he’s excited about his future there under coach Butch Jones’ staff.
“Now it’s Team 118, so we’re coming in,” said Kelly, who plans to enroll at Tennessee in the summer. “I’m going to be a freshman, along with more than 30 other guys, and Coach Jones does a great job over there. We’re looking for big things in the future, and I believe we’ll do well.
“Coach Jones, he does a great job — the whole staff, really. My defensive backs coach, coach (Willie) Martinez, he has high expectations for each and every one of us. I think we’re going to do well. I know it was shaky this year, but that win over South Carolina really stood out to me just because we beat a top-10 team (for the first time) in, who knows how long? So that was really important.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the Vols’ current group of 32 commitments for the 2014 class is ranked No. 3 nationally in the 247Sports team rankings.
“It’s really exciting,” said Kelly, who’s planning to take his official visit to Tennessee in January. “We had the number-one class in the country, and that’s what we expected. We wanted to play with the best players, so we’ve got to get the best players in the country. When we get over there, hopefully it’ll turn around and we’ll start winning ballgames.”