The en vogue WNY alum in the college football ranks right now is Penn State lineman John Urschel. The All-Big Ten player and third-team All American is also an academic superstar with three degrees and a 4.0 GPA. But he was also one of the last players in the 2009 recruiting class to receive an offer from Penn State.
On the flip side, the unquestionable highest-ranked recruit out of WNY in recent memory is Chad Kelly. The four-star recruit featured Hall of Fame bloodlines, experience in the hallowed Western Pennsylvania region, a handful of New York State records, and an invitation to the prestigious Elite 11 camp.
Ultimately accepting an offer to join the Clemson Tigers, Kelly made a splash well before he even arrived on campus, addressing this tweet to fellow Tigers QB Cole Stoudt:
While Tajh Boyd's career took off in upstate South Carolina, Kelly lost a year to a torn ACL and dealt with occasional outbursts in practices.
Suddenly, the telling moment on Chad Kelly's resume was not from the football field, but rather the disciplinary incidents that led to his dismissal from his first high school in Pennsylvania and transfer to St. Joe's on Kenmore Avenue.
Chad Kelly's Clemson football career has come to a close. Kelly, the fiery 2012 enrollee, capped off a tough weekend by getting dismissed from the Clemson football program by Dabo Swinney. Yesterday we discussed Kelly's poor Spring Game outing and his ridiculous insubordinate sideline outburst following a coaching decision to punt on 4th and 3 around mid-field. Chad Morris and Jeff Scott recommended Kelly be benched for the balance of the game and Swinney concurred, causing Kelly to show out even more on the sidelines.
Kelly is clearly going to land somewhere. He healed ridiculously quickly from his ACL tear and is a former Elite 11 participant who hasn't taken that much wear and tear so far in his college career. Despite his level of competition in high school, he still garnered attention from tons of BCS schools during his time in Western New York.
It's only a matter of time before someone here in Buffalo types up a public plea for Jeff Quinn to get in touch with Mr. Kelly and attempt to woo him to UB for his remaining eligibility. Unlike Chazz Anderson, Kelly has multiple years of eligibility left and could still build an excellent draft profile with his remaining time. Add in the dual-threat quarterback's Buffalo connections, and it's almost a no-brainer.
(Williams for his part, has parlayed a breakout season and a few middling ones into a reputation as a partier who hangs with the wrong crowd and got kicked out of Tampa by new coach Lovie Smith. As a Bills fan, I am less than optimistic that the high-risk trade for the wide receiver will pan out.)
As I said above, the whole reason that Kelly ended up the pride of Western New York in the first place was because he left his first high school in Pennsylvania for disciplinary reasons. Furthermore, there has to be a significant part of the story out of Clemson going untold. A player is not just dismissed for an eruption during the Spring Game, no matter how volcanic. Clearly, Kelly had either been playing with Coach Swinney's nerves for a while, or more happened this weekend than is being reported.
Just about every recruit Bull Run spoke to before National Signing Day referred glowingly to the family atmosphere that Jeff Quinn has built around his program. It may be fluff, and it may not, but even a generous interpretation of the events surrounding Kelly's departure from Death Valley doesn't really paint him as a team player.
And finally, of course, we already have our QB1. It's Joe Licata, who while not on Kelly's level out of high school, has more college experience than the big time recruit and is set to be the first stable quarterback in Amherst year over year since Drew Willy. At this point, we are all in with Licata, and shifting gears would do little but ruin the continuity that Quinn has finally built after the post-Gill nadir, a continuity that was damaged when Zach Maynard decided to take a ride on his brother's coattails and that took too long to rebuild before Licata forced Quinn's hand.
I cannot say this strongly enough: Licata is the Bulls QB, barring injury, until he graduates, and anything else would be disaster for the program still looking to string consecutive winning seasons together. No matter how good Kelly can be on the field, the apparent off-field issues are enough to convince me that any talk of him coming 'home' should be nipped in the bud.
Someone is going to say it, so I'm saying my piece. There are too many people in this town who get stars in their eyes when the Kelly name is invoked. But the ex-Tiger is not in any way a good fit for the Bulls and UB should stay away. Go Bulls.