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Tennessee Football: The most important players of 2017: #5 Todd Kelly Jr.

The senior will lead the Tennessee secondary.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Kelly Jr. has blossomed into a veteran leader for Tennessee’s defense over the past couple of seasons. As a starter at safety last year, Kelly led the team with 71 total tackles. He also tied for the team lead in interceptions with two. Kelly should assume the same role with the team this year as a senior.

Here’s what our staff had to say about Tennessee’s safety.

Terry Lambert: #9

It’s hard to believe that Kelly is already a senior. He’s been a consistent force in Tennessee’s secondary for a couple of years now. He’s like having another linebacker on the field. I’m not sure he has the range to play a centerfield role, but his work in the box is a big help. I’m interested to see how Bob Shoop rotates Micah Abernathy and Nigel Warrior in alongside Kelly this season.

Conner Knapp: #4

Todd Kelly Jr. is going to be the most critical member of Tennessee's secondary in 2017. Kelly's experience will be a huge asset if guys like Nigel Warrior and Marquill Osborne are going to get some playing time. Kelly needs to be an anchor for the Vols in the secondary to help a beleaguered defense from a year ago.

Evan Winter: #6

It's been fun watching Todd Kelly Jr. grow into the leader and playmaker over the past 3 years that he has become. I expect that trajectory to continue this season. Look for Kelly to be a first-team All-SEC player by season's end.