#55 Keith Kelsey
Hometown: Gainesville, FL
Thoughts: Not really sure where to start with Kelsey. The guy is an absolute animal and I was extremely excited when he announced his return last year (more so than Fields even, because I felt okay about depth on the outside). I know Fields played great last year, and DeAngelo Brown is an incredible NT, but Keith Kelsey is the undisputed leader of this defense and having him return was an incredible boost to what could be one of the best units to step on the field in quite some time. Tony Grantham stated the obvious back on signing day when he said the “The biggest recruit we landed (this offseason) was Keith Kelsey”. Not surprisingly others agree with Tony and myself, as Phil Steele ranked the Cards linebacking group as the second best in the nation behind only Alabama and ESPN, Bleacher Report, and Athlon, among others, called for the Cards defense to be even better than the Top 20 unit they fielded last season. Things could be special on that side of the ball this year and Kelsey’s return was key for the Cards to not only avoid taking a step back but actually improving from the 2015 team.
I know it can be difficult to keep up at times in regards to the carousel of linebackers that have come through the program, but Kelsey has been a solid piece of the defense all three seasons he’s been on campus. Year one he came in as a freshman and played in 12 games, grabbing 24 tackles on a team that had both Preston Brown and James Burgess in the middle. As a sophomore Kelsey finished second on the team in tackles (87) and grabbed 6 sacks, stepping into a leadership position as a Sophomore, and then of course last year Kelsey led the team in tackles (107), tossed in 12 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 3 broken up passes, 7 QB hurries, a forced fumble…and a partridge in a pear tree. The guy was all over the field and I actually think the statistics don’t quite do him justice on the season he had as crazy as that may sound. Can you all tell how much I love Kelsey yet?
While you’ve been busy filling out TPS reports, going to weddings, hanging out at the lake, etc, Mr. Kelsey has also had a very busy offseason. He was recently named to Athlon’s First Team All-ACC squad (voted first team All-ACC at end of last season by ACC media), he was named to the Kentucky Football Hall of Fame’s All-Commonwealth team, landed on a magazine cover (Sporting New’s), voted the teams “defensive grinder” by the coaching staff, hung out with Kenny Chesney while he was in town, was tagged as the #3 inside linebacker prospect by Mel Kiper, and even got his own highlight video…
I could probably throw another paragraph or two on here rehashing his accomplishment and awards but you get the point, and as you’ll see below how Kelsey himself is ready to move on to what lies ahead and not focus on what he’s already accomplished. I’m on board Keith, let’s go break some fools.
Imma play my heart out for my team and university this year,all I can ask of myself— Double nickel (@D1prospect6) June 30, 2016
I really liked Preston Brown, Mauldin was a fan favorite for sure, and Burgess was amazing…but Kelsey has come in and quietly done his job for the last three years and just may be my favorite Louisville linebacker to step on the field in the last decade.
Can’t wait to watch him add to his legacy.