January 31, 2008

Austin OL hopes for an offer on the 10th

It's not a bad time to be Austin (Texas) Lake Travis offensive tackle Paden Kelley.

In addition to being one of the state's top offensive line prospects, he's also still basking in the glow of being a major contributor to a Class 4A state championship run last December.

For a young man that has battled through some tough injuries already during his high school career, the triumphs in the last year and the prospect of landing scholarship offers from some of the nation's top college programs is reason to smile.

"Winning a state championship was just amazing," Kelley admits. ""It seemed like we just started peaking in the playoffs and the deeper we got, we just started to believe. We decided that we needed to stop losing in the first round."

With perhaps the state's top quarterback in junior Garrett Gilbert running the Lake Travis offense, points were never an issue for the Cavilers, but the team turned the corner and became a complete team during the playoffs, as they several state powers along the way.

"I think after we beat Calallen we started to believe," Kelley, who has been offered by Nebraska, said. "We had just beaten the No.2 team in the state, so anything was possible. We started thinking that if we've already come this far, why can't we win the whole thing?"

With his junior season complete, Kelley is now turning his attention to recruiting, as a number of Big 12 schools have invited Kelley to attend junior days, but at this point only a February 10th date at Texas has been confirmed.

"I've gotten a lot of stuff from schools in the Big 12 and I have some invites to attend junior days, but I'm not usually sure what my plans are for the weekend until the weekend before. I'm hoping to visit a few places though."

As far as the Longhorns are concerned, it will be interesting to see if they offer Kelley because everyone knows that he's from Austin and has ties to the Longhorn program. It's not every year that the Longhorns have a top-flight quarterback and offensive lineman available to them right down the street and the fact that they are both at the same school makes this a unique situation for everyone involved.

"I haven't really sat down with Coach McWhorter on the phone or anything and talked about whether they are going to offer at the Junior Day," Kelley said. "I've been to a few practices and I'm hoping for an offer. I wouldn't mind getting an offer from them."

The obvious question that has to be asked is whether an offer from Texas would push Kelley to end the recruiting process right then and there.

"I don't really want people blasting it around that I'm going to commit to Texas if they offer," Kelley said. "I would like to take a few visits, but I'd like to make an early decision. If I get some offers and Texas just happens to be one of the schools that offer, that would be nice. If they offer, that would be hard to turn down."

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