There were three in contention. At the time, Michael Eubank was the most promising, Mike Bercovici was the most experienced as the back-up the previous season and there was Taylor Kelly who was the under recruited, least experienced one out of Idaho. Many who watched ASU during spring practice in 2012 dropped those descriptions in a hurry when they saw Kelly play and work in new Head Coach Todd Graham’s offense.
Kelly secured the job, and has never looked back. In that 2012 season, he finished with 241 of 359 for 3,039 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Last season, he finished the season with 3,635 yards, 28 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions leading his team to a Pac-12 South Championship and earning Second Team All-Pac 12 honors.
From unknown to one of the nation’s elite at his position, Kelly is now set to enter his senior year and he can’t help but realize what an incredible ride it has been to this point.
“This ride’s been great,” Kelly said. “I have loved every moment that I’ve been a Sun Devil. I am going to miss it. But we have one last year together and I love these fans, I love this team, this coaching staff and I can’t wait to get started for my last season this year.”
The ASU team this season is not short on leaders despite the great senior class they lost from last season. One of those is Kelly and if you asked a lot of the younger players on the team, he is the guy that they want to emulate. Kelly tries to lead by example much like the person he came up emulating when he first joined the program.
“Brock Osweiler,” he explained. “My redshirt freshman year he was battling for that second job and then he finally won it at the end. He just did a lot of things right on the field and was a great role model for myself to really learn the offense and know what it takes to work. Working the weight room and how to lead a team.”
From an outsiders point of view, the growth in Kelly as a player and as a person has been evident. But from that stand point, it just scratches the surface in what Kelly has seen from himself over the past few years.
“Just how to be a leader,” Kelly explained when asked where he has seen himself grow. “Whether it’s a vocal leader or leading by example. Not taking things for granted. Being the hardest worker you can possibly be in the classroom, out in the community, on the field, game day. All of those things.”
Less than a year from now, Kelly’s collegiate career will be over and a career at the professional ranks will be on the horizon. He knows what he has to do to prove that come next summer, he will be the worth the investment of an NFL team to selected him in the 2015 draft.
“Get wins,” Kelly stated. “Make the ten other guys around me the best in the nation. How am I going to push my right tackle, right guard. How am I going to make them the best everyday in practice. How am I going to push DJ Foster to keep getting better each and every week. How am I going to push Jaelen (Strong) to watch film and be consistent. It’s just how am I going to make the ten other guys on the field the best that we can possibly be.”
“Then at the end of the day, we are going to get wins,” he added. “And win that National Championship.”