70 Days Away from Bama Kickoff: Ryan Kelly
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight one former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. Today, we look back on the Crimson career of Alabama legend, Ryan Kelly.
Ryan Kelly joined the Crimson Tide in 2011 as a three-star recruit and the fourth ranked center in his class. Hailing from Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio, the 6-foot-4, 264 lb. lineman chose Alabama over several other schools, including Ohio State and other major Big 10 programs.
After redshirting in his first year, Kelly made appearances in 10 games in 2012, backing up senior Barrett Jones, and was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.
Read More: 75 Days Away From Bama Kickoff: Barrett Jones |
As a sophomore, he took over the starting duties from Jones and led an offensive line that finished the season allowing just 1.31 sacks per game.
In Kelly's junior year, he was an anchor for the Alabama line, missing just seven assignments on over 800 snaps and not allowing a single sack all season.
In 2015, Kelly's final season, the senior was named a consensus All-American and took home the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation's top center.
Entering the 2016 NFL Draft, the West Chester native was viewed by many as the top center in the class, and with the 18th overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected Kelly. In his first year, the rookie started all 16 games at center and was instantly seen as a worthy replacement for Colts legend Jeff Saturday.
After picking up the final year on his rookie deal in 2019, Indianapolis signed Kelly to a massive extension in 2020, making him the highest paid center in the NFL at the time.
Heading into the 2022 season, Kelly is the leader of one of the NFL's top offensive line units and has carved out a spot as one of the best centers in the game. The former three-star recruit has made three consecutive Pro Bowls and was named second team All-Pro in 2020. At just 29-years old, Kelly is right in the middle of what looks to be a fantastic career.