It's JUCO season for the Syracuse Orange football coaches and they've just bagged a third one in a week. Enter 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety Darius Kelly from Tuscon's Pima Community College.
Kelly is originally from Fayetteville, N.C. He made a non-binding verbal commitment to Marshall University last week, but he reconsidered after SU made its offer.
In your face, Herd.
Kelly has three years to play two seasons for the Orange. He apparently also received interest from Arizona, Utah and Utah State. And here's why...
A first-team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Association choice, Kelly was the Aztecs leading tackler with 74 stops (53 solo), one sack, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Kelly also returned kicks for Pima (1-10). He averaged 25.4 yards on 18 kickoff returns and 19.3 yards per attempt on seven punt returns. Kelly returned one punt for a touchdown.
The really cool news is hearing Kelly's reasons for why he chose Syracuse. It was the closeness of the current players that turned the tide. Special credit to Brandon Reddish, who became good friends with Kelly during recruiting trips.
"He's a real cool guy," said Kelly, who just finished his sophomore season at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz. "He's just a symbol of what the team is. I've never been around a team that close since my freshman year in high school."
Having Donnie Henderson on the staff certainly didn't hurt either.
"He knows," Kelly said of Henderson, who has 30 years of coaching experience in college and the NFL. "He knows what it looks like - how to do it."
Kelly says he was told he'll have the chance to compete for Shamarko Thomas' strong safety spot after he graduates. Big shoes to fill and we're looking forward to seeing if Kelly can do it.