Tennessee running back John Kelly wants the next coach of the Volunteers to be truthful.
As Tennessee prepares for its first game under interim coach Brady Hoke following the firing of Butch Jones, Kelly was asked what traits he was looking for in the Vols’ next head coach.
“Somebody who’s going to be honest,” Kelly said. “Honesty, that’s really just the most important thing to me.”
We’ll let you read into that quote what you will.
Jones was fired Sunday after Tennessee’s 50-17 loss to Missouri. The firing comes as Tennessee is 4-6 following consecutive 9-4 seasons. Despite years of highly ranked recruiting classes, the Volunteer offense has struggled mightily in 2017. Tennessee went over a month between offensive touchdowns and hasn’t scored over 30 points in a game since a Week 1 win over Georgia Tech.
Kelly is Tennessee’s best offensive player. He has 154 carries for 711 yards and eight touchdowns and leads the team with 33 catches. He emerged as a feature back alongside Alvin Kamara in 2016 following Jalen Hurd’s transfer and rushed for 630 yards on 98 carries a year ago.
Kelly’s a junior, so it’s worth wondering if he’ll even play for the coach Tennessee hires to replace Jones. Given how short the career of a running back can be, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kelly declare for the NFL draft after the season.
“Absolutely not — that’s not even on my radar right now,” Kelly said when he was asked Wednesday if he was thinking that Tennessee’s final two games of 2017 may be his last two in a Vols uniform. “I’m trying to help our seniors get to their last bowl game.”
Tennessee must beat LSU and Vanderbilt to get bowl eligible.
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