Tennessee running back John Kelly announced Friday he intends to declare for the NFL Draft. Kelly made the announcement via a post on Instagram.
I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft and thank so many that were instrumental in getting me to where I am today. From my time in Detroit to my collegiate career at Tennessee, words can’t express my gratitude to everyone that has helped me throughout my journey. To my friends and family, I want to thank you for always being there for me. To my teammates, and coaching staff, I want to thank you for always pushing me to better myself and grow on and off the field. To Vol Nation, I want to thank you for all of your support through all of the highs and lows. I will always call Neyland Stadium home. As I take the next step in my career, I will never forget where it all began. Detroit and Tennessee will always be a part of me at every step of this journey and I promise to always represent you well. With everything you’ve given to me, that’s the least I can do for you all. From the bottom of my heart - thank you, all. Go Vols!
2017 was Kelly’s first year as Tennessee’s top back, after playing behind Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara during his first two seasons.
Kelly rushed 189 times for 778 yards and nine touchdowns this past season. Kelly started the year on fire, but fell off in the second half of the season which included a one-game suspension stemming from a marijuana citation.
In 2016, Kelly rushed for 630 yards and five touchdowns on just 98 carries, building excitement for a potential breakout season in 2017.
Kelly’s numbers from this past season don’t necessarily jump off the page, but Tennessee’s offensive limitations in 2017 were apparent. He made plenty of plays that will impress NFL scouts.
It is somewhat of a surprise that Kelly is not returning for his senior year, however, as he seems like a perfect candidate to benefit from one more year of college football. But in today’s era of running backs, you can’t blame him for wanting to get paid for his carries and prove himself in the NFL. We wish Kelly the best and will wait to see where he is selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.