Tennessee head coach Butch Jones and his staff recruited Oak Park running back John Kelly hard during the holiday season and it paid off with the three-star recruit and Detroit News Dream Team member announcing Thursday he was going to play for the Vols.
Before Jones and Tennessee entered the picture, Kelly was considering Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan. He took an official visit to Tennessee Jan. 16.
"They started recruiting me my junior year and offered me in November," said Kelly, who made his announcement at the high school. "I kind of made up my mind a week or so before I took my official visit. When I took my official visit last week, I just really had a good vibe about it. Their running back spot needs some help. It's an amazing campus and my mom liked it, too."
Kelly, a three-year starter, was one of the most versatile players in the state with the ability to play multiple positions. He averaged nearly 10 yards per carry (138 carries, 1,312 yards) while scoring 25 TD. He also returned one punt for a touchdown and two kickoffs for scores and made 39 tackles from his defensive back spot, returning one interception for a TD.
Michigan State had offered Kelly as a defensive back, but Kelly wants to play running back.
"I'm extremely happy for him, comfortable with his decision," Oak Park coach Greg Carter said. "He enjoyed his visit and confirmed the feelings that he had about Tennessee before the trip. His mother, Little League coach and one of our coaches made the trip with him. He was recruited as a running back there and he's very excited with the opportunity."
His friend, Cass Tech running back Mike Weber —– also a member of The Detroit News Dream Team — is thrilled for him, saying: "Tennessee's future is bright and John Kelly will do a good job for them at running back. I'm happy for him."
Weber understands the excitement surrounding Tennessee's program.
"My most memorable experience was at Tennessee," said Weber, who took a visit to Tennessee last summer. " I had a lot of fun last summer. I performed at their camp and that's when I got the offer. I loved the atmosphere. All their fans showed a lot of love and it was like a brotherhood throughout the buildings. We really enjoyed ourselves, but in the end it was just too far for me."
Weber stands solid with his commitment to Ohio State. He had originally committed to Michigan, but de-committed in November and then Brady Hoke was fired as head coach.
"I've talked to Coach Harbaugh a few times and he's a pretty energized guy," said Weber of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. "I'm committed to Ohio State. I haven't made one (an official visit) to Michigan and I don't think I will."
Northville tackle David Moorman said Thursday is he is totally committed to Wisconsin and doesn't plan on taking official visits to any other school.