Today's featured player is one of the most experienced on the roster. He has been a starter since his freshman season and enters 2011 as a fixture at left tackle. With the offensive line considered a strength and Ralph Bolden returning, Kelly's experience will be invaluable.
Dennis Kelly - Sr.
Hometown: Chicago, IL (Marian Catholic HS)
6'8" 297 pounds
2011 Projection: Starter at Left Tackle
Kelly was a surprise out of high school. He was going to be a greyshirt in 2008, but because of dramatic gain in weight he was put on scholarship at the last minute. Injuries thrust into the starting lineup as a true freshman, playing the final five games. He has since nailed down the left tackle position, starting all 12 games in 2009 and 2010, giving us valuable experience at the most important position along the line.
What is makes things even more shocking is that he was primarily a tight end and basketball player in high school. His high school has made him the focal point of its football page. His success in learning a new position quickly comes from being a smart player. He was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2009 majoring in organizational leadership and supervision (or as Mrs. T-Mill calls it, football coaching). He is also well loved by his home church back in Chicago.
From what I was able to find Kelly's biggest talent is his leadership. He was a major leader for Marian Catholic both in football and basketball. He will be asked to continue that this year. He's not afraid of facing long odds, as he nearly lead Marian Catholic to a state tournament upset of Homewood-Flossmoor during his senior year of basketball. H-F was 26-1 and nationally ranked at the time, but Kelly's effort nearly led to a major upset.
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