Keith Kelsey: the true grinder

By on September 3, 2015

By Noah Allison–

Keith Kelsey is the true grinder.

“Kelsey is the guy that you kind of have to run him out of the office sometimes because he wants to stay in there, watch tape and just absorb knowledge. He’s a sponge in that aspect. He’s able to apply things that when we go over to the field it is going to make sense to him. Its not chaos all of a sudden. Some guys it takes a little bit longer to transition but Kelsey is a guy that worked himself into it. He has a very good foundation of football. You can tell that he understands football and it doesn’t surprise me at all.

“I expect him to take it to the next level this season. I really think that he is going to have a heck of a year for us.”

There is a reason that inside linebacker’s coach Tony Grantham speaks so highly of his junior inside linebacker.

Few persons had a larger single impact on the success of last year’s football team than Kelsey. As just a true sophomore, Kelsey was second on the team in overall tackles with 87 and second on the team in solo tackles with 60. Behind him in both categories were his running mate, fellow inside linebacker James Burgess.

While Burgess is the true senior captain of this year’s squad, his job is made easier knowing that standing at his side is his good friend, his fellow tackling machine, and his fellow “Bash Bro,” Keith Kelsey.

Kelsey, at six-foot-one, 236 pounds had a larger leap in production from freshman to sophomore season than most could have expected. He went from not starting a single game as a freshman to starting all 13 games as a sophomore. He went from recording 24 tackles as a freshman to being the team’s second leading tackler with 87 as a sophomore.

His productivity was not limited to pure tackling. Kelsey was also third on the team in sacks with six on the season and brought a savvy, veteran presence to one of the top ranked defenses in the country.

“I felt like I was going to do good because of the amount of work I put in. Both studying and being in the weight room working hard. The coaches really believed in me and I just felt confident going out there,” Kesley said.

Kelsey is looked upon to be one of the anchors on this year’s defense and continue on his current path of success. With a full year under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s defensive system, the now upperclassmen Kesley will look to take the leap to the next level.

“We are at a faster pace because we really understand the system and guys are really buying in to it. There is no leftover from last year; we are just coming in right ahead and going fast.

The inside linebacker tandem of Kelsey and Burgess combined for 158 tackles, nine sacks, three interceptions and one fumble recovery. The respect between them is mutual, and the productivity between them is phenomenal for U of L coaches, fans and fellow teammates.

“He made it a lot easier, he really helped me my freshman year, helped me understand the game of football and last year he helped and we just fed off each other,” Kelsey said of Burgess.

“He’s my Bash Bro man,” Burgess said of Kelsey.

“He’s a very, very humble young man. From the day he got here he was always behind me, he always listened to me. There’s never any tension between us, he’s just always humble and he has an ongoing motor. He never gives up on the play,” Burgess said.

“He’s smart, very decisive in his decision-making and he’s a student of the game. He studies film with me a lot. If I call him he’s never like, ‘naw naw I’m doing something.’ He is always interested in learning. He’s a very humble, hungry young man,” Burgess concludes.

“Him and James together is a really good tandem because they understand each other and they can play off each other. They’ve seen a lot of football and we expect them to have an unbelievable year for us,” Grantham said.

As one looks around the 2015 Louisville football roster and see’s all the new faces and all the young contributors, there is one area of familiarity fans and coaches can turn to. The inside linebackers will provide assured production, play-making ability and unquestioned leadership.

When the “Bash Bros” go to work on Saturdays this fall, it’ll be clear that Keith Kelsey is not going to wait around for anyone else to make the play.

About Noah Allison

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