If first-year coach Butch Jones is going to get Tennessee back to contending for championships in the SEC, his first order of business is beating teams on the recruiting trail that the Vols have to beat on the field.
Getting Kelly was big on several fronts. For starters, he was being recruited by everybody, including Alabama, Florida, USC, Stanford and Ohio State. So it makes a huge statement that Jones could get a player of Kelly's caliber this early. The Vols also need to start locking up the top in-state players. Two of the best from Tennessee in the 2013 class -- Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) and Vonn Bell (Ohio State) -- went elsewhere.
Also, Kelly is a legacy. His father, Todd Kelly, was a star defensive end at Tennessee and an NFL first-round draft choice in 1993.
It's no secret that the 2014 signing class is crucial for Jones and the Tennessee program. Kelly was right there at the top of the list for the Vols and should be an attractive centerpiece for them to build around over the next 10 or 11 months.
In fact, Kelly said he had already called running back Jalen Hurd of Hendersonville, Tenn., to try and get Hurd in the Big Orange boat with him. Hurd will also be a national recruit and one of the top-rated running back prospects in the country.