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Tennessee RB John Kelly was the best player on the field against Florida

Let’s all appreciate him for a minute.

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NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Enough with the negatives. Let’s talk about John Kelly. Tennessee’s workhorse was spectacular against the Florida Gators, proving to be the one constant for the Vols. Kelly ran for 141 yards on 19 carries and caught 6 passes for an additional 96 yards.

He was the Tennessee offense.

Pro Football Focus took notice. They credited him with forcing 15 missed tackles against Florida alone. 15!

Kelly ranks 2nd in the nation in forced missed tackles, trailing only David Montgomery of Iowa State, per PFF. With a hot start to his 2017 season, Kelly is already getting some NFL Draft buzz. I had a feeling that the NFL would be all over him after a couple of looks in his new extended role.

With runs like this, his physical style has opened some eyes this year.


Kelly used his national stage a couple of weeks back to showcase himself against Georgia Tech. His performance against Florida backed that up — and then some. Look how he finishes these runs. You can see the competitive fire oozing out of him.


Kelly gives you a little bit of everything. He isn’t big, but the explosion, power and balance is all there. You see some of his elusiveness here, plus the burst to get going again once stopped.


Kelly is the one constant bright spot in the offense right now. Marquez Callaway is great, but quarterback play simply hasn’t been consistent enough for him to truly be a force. Kelly is the engine that makes everything go for the Vols.


As Butch Jones put it, Kelly is the face of this football program. He’s right. You saw him get hit with the taunting call after he scored his last touchdown, but I can’t help but love that. He’s flat out better than everyone on the football field and he’s going to let you know about it. That’s awesome.

Tennessee is going to have to have him handle a load of carries every week to win football games. Through three games, he certainly seems up to the task.