Oak Park's John Kelly dominates while evaluating offers

David Goricki
The Detroit News

John Kelly has been a dominant force on both sides of the ball this season, a reason Oak Park is one of the top teams in the state, and he is being recruited by top-25 powers like Michigan State and Ohio State.

"He's one of the top players I've coached in a long, long time," said Oak Park coach Greg Carter, who guided Detroit DePorres to state championships in the 1995, 1996, 2007 and 2008. "He has a great combination of speed and strength. He's so explosive. Pound for pound I feel he's the best player in the state."

Kelly, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior running back / defensive back, has rushed for 432 yards and scored 11 TD, averaging 7.5 yards per carry for Oak Park, which is 3-1 (3-0 OAA Red) and ranked No. 7 in The Detroit News' Super 20.

Big plays? You bet. Kelly scored on a 61-yard run and a 53-yard reception in a 27-26 loss to Detroit Cass Tech in the opener; returned a kickoff 87 yards for a score in a 36-0 win over Royal Oak; broke loose for a 47-yard run to set up a score in a 27-0 victory over Farmington Hills Harrison; and scored on a 78-yard run Friday in a 53-0 win over Rochester.

"I feel I'm durable, and once everyone else is winded, I have a second gear," Kelly said. "I'm patient, feeling eventually I'll break one. I always feel I'll be able to break one."

Carter said Kelly plays as well in the secondary as he does running the ball.

"He's a great defensive player," said Carter of Kelly. "He's so versatile. He made a big interception to end a drive (against Rochester). He's had only three balls thrown his way all year."

Kelly had 217 total yards against Cass Tech, including 141 rushing on 25 carries. He gained 142 yards on eight carries and scored three TD against Rochester.

"I was timed at 4.38 at Ohio State, but haven't been timed since I ran a 4.45 40 last December," Kelly said.

Kelly has been offered scholarships by MSU, Minnesota, Maryland, Cincinnati and Western Michigan. The Buckeyes also are interested.

"Michigan State and Minnesota are my top two, but I plan on taking all of my (five official) visits after the season, then make my decision," Kelly said. "I plan to go to Michigan State when they play Ohio State (Nov. 8 in East Lansing). I'm open to the whole process and I'm listening to everyone. Coach (Kerry) Coombs of Ohio State talked with me before my game Friday, but Ohio State hasn't offered yet.

"With Junior (linebacker McMullen) going to Western, I'm looking into that as well."

McMullen, a senior, has been a force since coming back from a hamstring injury that forced him to watch the loss against Cass Tech from the sidelines.

"He's one of the best defensive players in the state," said Carter of McMullen. "He's a steady influence to the interior of our defense and the linebackers and he makes a big difference."