By Rob Patrick
In football, when a player is called old-school it’s usually a compliment. It means the player is[more] tough, physically but also mentally. It means there’s a passion for the game, a no-nonsense approach while going full bore all the time.
On National signing day Wednesday, Feb. 6, the Arkansas Tech University Wonder Boys got a little more old-school with the signing of the Bryant Hornets’ hard-rushing, all-state defensive end, Tim Kelly.
“Tim has the motor, the drive that the old-style football players had,” stated Hornets head coach Paul Calley. “He’s got tremendous intensity. He has one speed and that’s wide open. Even when he’s dead tired in practice or in games, he’s going to give it everything he’s got every snap.”
Kelly, a two-year starter, led Bryant with four sacks and seven tackles for loss in 2012. He was third in tackles on a defense designed to put linebackers and safeties in position to make stops. But, more than that, before the season had even begun he stepped up into the mantel of team leader.
“He’s such a good rusher off the edge,” Calley said. “I think his reads come hard for him because he is so fast and so active and so explosive.”
Kelly may have been leaning toward signing with Harding but his focus moved to Tech when the Russellville school made a new hire.
“The new defensive coordinator they hired, Scott Simons, I talked with him a lot when he was at Harding,” Kelly noted. “He was the first coach that ever recruited me so I had a real good relationship with him. I think he’s a great coach. I like the style of defense he runs and I’m looking forward to learning under him.
“I was definitely considering Ouachita and Harding,” he added. “I like both schools, mainly for their academics. The thing about Tech is I really love their football team and I really thing it’s on the rise. I’m absolutely in love with the school right now.”
Academics was a factor in Arkansas Tech’s favor too.
“I’m looking at going into Mechanical Engineering and they have a great Engineering program,” Kelly related. “I’ve been up there many times. It’s a great campus, great student body. It’s very big, one of the fastest growing schools in Arkansas. I’m looking forward to being up there.”
Calley expects Kelly to contribute right away on special teams.
“He played for us as a sophomore on special teams,” he said. “I think he can help Tech as a freshman.”
When asked what the ATU coaches had said, Kelly stated, “They’re going to keep me at defensive end as a hard pass rusher. They’re going to put more weight on me and I should be able to start maybe by my junior year.”
He acknowledged his excitement about the opportunity.
“I’m really taking it in stride,” he allowed. “My junior year (at Bryant), I never thought I’d play college football. But when I got some coaches talking to me, it became more real for me, that I had a real good chance of playing it. So I just kept working harder and harder until it really became a reality.”
Hard work, old-school, Tim Kelly.