Quick: Who was the second-team All-Pac-12 quarterback last year behind Oregon's Marcus Mariota?
Must have been UCLA star Brett Hundley, right? Maybe Sean Mannion from Oregon State? Or Stanford’s Kevin Hogan?
It was actually Arizona State's Taylor Kelly. In the year of the quarterback in the Pac-12, Kelly is the one flying under the radar.
Not that he cares.
“Being under the radar pushes me,” said Kelly, a redshirt senior. “It makes me stay humble. There’s a chip on my shoulder to outwork everyone else.… I see myself as the best one in the conference. That’s all that matters, and no one is going to take my confidence away from me. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Part of the reason why Kelly is comfortable in the underdog role is because he’s been in it his whole career. Out of high school in Idaho, most recruiting sites had him ranked as a two-star prospect — if they had ranked him at all. At Arizona State, he redshirted his first year and didn’t play in the next one. It wasn’t until 2012, his redshirt sophomore year, that Kelly began to take off.
Last season, he became only the second quarterback in school history to have thrown for over 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons. He has thrown 57 touchdowns in his two seasons as a full-time starter.
According to Coach Todd Graham, this is the best offense he’s ever coached. He runs a quarterback-centric system, one that “requires a guy who is very disciplined in distributing the ball and doesn’t turn it over.”
Even though there may not be much external pressure on Kelly, there will be some on him internally.
His teammates think he’s going to be just fine.
“I think he can be the best in the nation, to be honest,” offensive lineman Jamil Douglas said. “He’s improving every day, he’s sharp, and he’s getting bigger and stronger. I think this is just the beginning for him.”
Twitter: @everettcookCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times