Kelley humbled

Kyle Kelley admitted that being named to the prestigious Parade All-America Football Team — as one of the top 50 high school players in the nation — was a surprise.

But that honor, which was released by the magazine earlier this month, certainly could not have surprised college recruiters from Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, Washington State, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Utah and Colorado.

Those were the schools that offered Kelley a football scholarship, at least, "those are the only ones I can think of right now," he said.

Kelley had plenty of options following his senior season at Woodbridge High, where he finished with 87 tackles and 22 sacks for the 6-6 Warriors.

He initially committed to Arizona, but reopened the recruiting process when the program fired head coach Bob Stoops.

Oklahoma and Colorado re-entered the race, but ultimately, Kelley stuck with Arizona.

"I just felt really comfortable at that campus and I liked the whole college town feel they had," said Kelley, a 6-foot-3, 238-pound defensive end. "It has a great business school, it's in thePac-12, and I feel it's a program that's going to be on the rise."

Kelley went directly into the weight room following the Warriors' season, which ended with a quarterfinal loss to Estancia in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.

He'll graduate in June, then head to Tucson in July.

The plan for now is for Kelley to remain at defensive end, though he might also get a shot at outside linebacker, "depending on how my body fills out," he said.

Kelley hopes to see plenty of action as a true freshman and thinks he has a chance to make in immediate impact with the Wildcats' football team.

"I want to do the best I can but hopefully I can start as a freshman when I get there," he said. "I think I have a good shot because they don't have that many defensive ends right now. That's my goal when I get there, get a starting job or at least get in the rotation."

Throughout high school, Kelley was athletic enough to play just about every position on offense at one time or another, but was a natural at defensive end. Kelley, however, wasn't one of those kids who put on a helmet and pads as soon as he could walk.

He played for the Irvine Chargers of Junior All-American Football when he was in the eighth grade, but before then, baseball was his sport of choice.

He was a pitcher and played third base and right field, but finally he had enough.

"I played baseball my whole life," he said. "Once I hit high school, I liked football more. I always played baseball, I played travel ball but I played too much and just kind of got worn out by it. Once I tried football, I liked the hitting a lot, football kind of took over."

Kelley, in a way, took over football, all the way to the prestigious honor of being named a Parade All-American.

"I was pretty surprised about that," Kelley said, "but I was honored and very happy about it."

Woodbridge football coach Rick Gibson, though, was among those who saw it coming.

"We have had some very good football players but none that were recognized by this honor," Gibson said. "Kyle is successful because he works every day to get better. He practices as hard as he plays the game. Practicing at game speed and taking extra reps are just two examples of what makes him great.

"Because of this attitude he will be successful at Arizona. He has the size and strength to compete but again his attitude will set him apart from the others."

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