COLUMBIA, S.C. — It will be hard for Tennessee fans to look past the scoreboard at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium, but those that do might see a shooting star.
Sophomore tailback John Kelly was a bright spot for the Vols in their 24-21 loss, if there could be such a thing in an upset defeat.
Kelly had 14 carries for 94 yards against the Gamecocks, a breakout performance of sorts with Alvin Kamara’s future uncertain on account of a knee injury and Jalen Hurd in a season-long slump.
“I took advantage of the opportunities I had, came away with the amount of carries and touches I was able to get,” Kelly said, “but I felt like there was a lot more out there that I could have provided for the team to help us have success.”
Kelly is not only ready to carry the football — he’s ready to lead.
“I’m going to make sure none of the guys let their head hang, and everybody stays positive and keeps working,” Kelly said. “That’s all we can do.”
Kelly was regarded as a leader among the top high school prospects in the Detroit area, with Michigan State pushing extremely hard to land him during the recruiting process with hopes of playing him at safety.
Kelly does indeed run in a violent manner.
“Angry, basically,” Kelly said, asked about how he would describe his running style. “I feel everyone is out to get me, so I’m just out there running as hard as I can.”
In addition to running the football, Kelly also caught a 17-yard pass from Josh Dobbs.
“I know my coaches trust me regardless of what the situation is,” Kelly said. “When I’m out there I’m playing the game I always play.”
Kelly said he wasn’t aware of any injury to starter Jalen Hurd, who had 8 carries for 16 yards.
“I didn’t know when he got hurt,” Kelly said. “But once my name was called, I just went out there and took advantage of the opportunity.”