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Irish Links: Kelly’s Detoured Road to NFL

Today: Quarterbacks dominate the news cycle

Florida State v Mississippi Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Good morning, everyone! Here are your headlines for Tuesday, Feb. 21.


NCAA Football: Mississippi at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tries to untangle the mess around Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly’s invite, then disinvite, to the NFL Combine.

To recap, Kelly was kicked off the Clemson Tigers football team for conduct detrimental to the squad in April 2014 and subsequently spent a season at community college. In December 2014, Kelly was involved in a bar fight in Buffalo where it was alleged he threatened to use a gun.

Kelly later pleaded to a lesser charge, disorderly conduct, which in New York is on the same legal plane as unlawful possession of marijuana, urinating in public or trespassing.

The NFL’s policy is to bar anyone from its Combine if a background check uncovers a felony or misdemeanor conviction involving violence. Kelly may have been charged with something that significant, but he was convicted of a violation - which is, from a legal perspective, not a criminal charge.

So it Kelly being railroaded unfairly? Plenty of people in his camp think so, including his uncle, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who made a personal plea for his nephew to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

A decision from Goodell on Kelly’s status was expected last Friday. The Combine starts next week in Indianapolis.


Florida State Spring Game Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

You may recall De’Andre Johnson, who was dismissed from Florida State after striking a woman at a bar in July 2015.

Johnson’s dad, Earl, joined “The Audible” podcast to detail his son’s journey since being kicked out of school. Like Chad Kelly, De’Andre Johnson enrolled in East Mississippi Community College - which many of you may know from the Netflix series, “Last Chance U.”

The elder Johnson said his son took anger management classes, visited victims of domestic violence, started attending church and saw a therapist.

“We had to help him to realize that this isn’t the end of the road because he had made a bad choice and a bad mistake,” said Earl Johnson. “We didn’t want him to give up on his dreams. We tried to surround him with great families and friends and mentors. We have great pastors. We had to build him up, physically, mentally and spiritually.”

The Florida Atlantic Owls, after what Earl called an “extreme vetting,” offered De’Andre a second chance to pursue his career. He’ll play for the Owls this fall.


Stanford v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Sticking with quarterbacks, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg took on the biggest spring competitions. The sportswriter said two Notre Dame Fighting Irish opponents in 2017, the Stanford Cardinal and the Miami Hurricanes, are among the hottest competitions.

Stanford: The Irish saw both senior Ryan Burns and senior Keller Chryst in South Bend last October. Burns had a unremarkable day, going 10-for-19 for 120 yards and throwing one pick. Chryst attempted just one pass - and didn’t complete it. But two games later, he was starting over Burns.

Chryst went 6-0 as a starter, but tore his ACL during the Cardinal’s bowl game. Burns and freshman K.J. Costello will look to distinguish themselves this spring, while Chryst and freshman Davis Mills join the competition this summer.

Miami: The race to replace Brad Kaaya is officially on, with Kaaya’s backup, junior Malik Rosier, considered the early favorite. Redshirt freshman Jack Allison ran the scout team last year, and apparently impressed. Junior Vincent Testaverde, Vinny’s son, and sophomore Evan Shirreffs have, so far, not done enough to distinguish themselves as legitimate threats. The Hurricanes have two true freshman quarterbacks: early enrollee Cade Wilson and N’Kosi Perry, who will join the team this summer.