NORMAN, Okla. (BVM) – Nothing comes easy for everyone. For Oklahoma senior Caleb Kelly, proving whatever you want to be can be achieved through hard work and determination; no matter what obstacles are thrown your way.
After being on the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) football team for the past six years, Kelly’s time as a Sooner is coming to a close. Kelly entered OU as a 5-star recruit in 2016 and became one of the biggest assets for the team. Kelly would have a significant role for the Sooners until suffering two separate knee injuries. Kelly was able to play for the majority of his last season(2021-22) before suffering from yet another knee injury (torn ACL) during the game against Baylor on Nov. 13, 2021.
Well looks like I’ve played my last game in the Crimson & Cream. I love you Sooner Nation! I gave everything I had and went out on the field. You all turned a California kid into an Oklahoma man. We’ve made a lot of memories that I’ll cherish forever! #BoomerSooner 🤍 CK out✌🏽 pic.twitter.com/v8pkOeZrkv
— Kanai™️ (@calebkkelly) November 13, 2021
With Kelly’s football career coming to close, his future still remains in question. With his knee injury happening so close to pro day and declaring for the NFL draft, Kelly is unable to determine what he will be doing in the next year.
In a press conference, Kelly was asked if he would be continuing his football career or if he would be moving on.
“If you would’ve asked me a week ago, I would’ve said ‘Well I’m probably going to go train in Tampa and all that,’” Kelly said. “There’s no way I’m gonna go (to the NFL) this year. I’m not gonna go have pro day this year, so if I am to continue football it won’t be until next year’s draft and next year’s pro day.”
With his future still in question, Kelly has thought back to when he injured his knee.
“It was crazy; I didn’t cry or anything,” Kelly said. “I said, ‘Well that’s that’ and so then walking out I was just looking at the crowd and everybody and thought this is the last time that I will be fully dressed in and OU uniform. I was just taking it all in.”
Instead of dwelling on the loss of his last season, Kelly continued to view his injury as a positive and not let it hold him back. Kelly continues to be grateful for his experiences at OU, especially his friendships that he has made. And that includes Bryan Mead.
“Bryan and I moved in on the same day because we both moved in a week late,” Kelly said. “We came in together and he was my first workout partner. We lived in Headington together, [he was] one of my very first friends. He’s really one of my best friends, it’s really cool how close we are and how much he’s been there for me through everything.”
Mead was on the field with Kelly during the time of his ACL tear during the Baylor game and helped him come to his senses.
“He said a quick prayer and kept saying, ‘Caleb can you hear me,’” Kelly said. “All of a sudden I snapped out of it and said, ‘I can hear you get out of my face.’”
Kelly even mentioned that he will be in Mead’s wedding and expressed his excitement to be a part of this celebration for his friend.
Simultaneously, Kelly has also thought about what he could potentially do if he’s not suiting for an NFL team on Sundays. He likes the idea of coaching or recruiting and even hinted towards other offers that he has received due to his connections he’s made at Oklahoma. While being drafted is still his ultimate goal, he understands that there are other options and is open to exploring new things.
Throughout his six years playing with the Sooners, Kelly has experienced so much. Being through all of the ups and downs, Kelly has been able to make the most of it because of his supportive teammates and the love that everyone shares with each other.
Kelly still had a positive season despite it getting it cut short. He learned to be appreciative of all the opportunities given and enjoyed taking a step back to allow other players to have opportunities. Kelly didn’t deny that his senior year wasn’t ideally the way he wanted it, but still had fun while playing and didn’t mind not starting every game.
Kelly has served as a leader on the team, especially this past season when he was a team captain. He was pleasantly surprised at how perceptive his team was and would listen to the advice he gave to the other players.
“When you have that title you kind of get that open door from everybody to where when you are talking to everybody they are listening and care about what you have to say,” Kelly said. “It has been a really cool experience especially with the young guys and being there for them because those ups and downs the first years are really hard.”
Kelly is the example of many players looking up to him that shows perseverance and determination will outweigh any troubles faced on the path to success.
Overall, Caleb Kelly has faced some of the most difficult years of his athletic career. However, his positive attitude and teamwork has helped him enjoy his time both on and off the field. There is no doubt that Kelly will be a success in all his future endeavors and will shed light on any negative situation thrown his way.
“Being an Oklahoma Sooner really for me is going through anything and not giving up,” Kelly said.