The speedy, acrobatic Kelly owns USC's career pass catching record (204 receptions, sixth on the Pac-10 chart). He is second on the USC ladder for receiving yards (3,104, fifth on the Pac-10 chart), behind Johnnie Morton's 3,201. He had a catch in all 48 games he played as a Trojan, tying the Pac-10 record with Keenan Howry of Oregon. The Pac-10 counts bowl games in its career records. Kelly also owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a catch-which until this year did not include bowl games-at 47 in a row. He has 9 100-yard receiving games in his career.
Kelly started for his fourth year at wide receiver as a senior in 2002. He also returned punts. He made 2002 All-Pac-10 honorable mention. Overall in 2002 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 46 receptions for 605 yards (13.2 avg.) with 4 TDs, plus he had a 1-yard run on a reverse and returned 11 punts for 76 yards (6.9 avg.). He did not start 2 mid-season games (Washington and Oregon), but he did play in those contests. He was invited to play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game. He missed part of 2002 spring practice with a hamstring strain. He also has sprinted for the USC track team.
He caught a game-best 6 passes for 66 yards with a TD against Auburn and also returned 2 punts for 0 yards. He had 4 catches for 36 yards at Colorado and returned 4 punts for 31 yards. At Kansas State, he caught 3 passes for 42 yards and returned a punt 19 yards. He had a 6-yard catch against Oregon State. He had a game-best 8 catches for 66 yards at Washington State. He grabbed 3 passes for 19 yards against California, including a 6-yard TD. He caught a 16-yard pass against Washington. At Oregon, he had 6 receptions for 94 yards, with a 31-yard TD. He had 3 receptions for 69 yards (including a 50-yarder) at Stanford. He had an 11-yard catch versus Arizona State. At UCLA, he had 4 catches for a game-high 94 yards and leaped high for a 34-yard TD grab on the game's first play. He had 3 catches for 12 yards against Notre Dame to get a share of the USC career reception record and the Pac-10 and NCAA records for consecutive games with a reception (he also returned 2 punts for 11 yards). Against Iowa in the Orange Bowl, he had 3 catches for 74 yards (including a 65-yarder on USC's first play to set up a TD) to set an NCAA record for consecutive games with a catch (47) en route to becoming Troy's career reception leader (204).
Kelly started for his third season at wide receiver (split end) as a junior in 2001. Overall in 2001 while appearing in all 12 games (he did not start against Arizona State and Arizona, but did play), he had a team-best 49 receptions for 801 yards (16.3 avg.) with 3 TDs, plus ran for 38 yards on 6 reverses (6.3 avg.) and returned 8 punts for 51 yards (6.4 avg.). He had a pair of 100-yard receiving games in 2001 (165 yards at Oregon and 127 yards versus Arizona State). He was on the "Watch List" for the 2001 Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver.
He had 3 catches for 18 yards in the San Jose State opener and returned a punt 10 yards, then added 7 grabs for 75 yards (both game bests) against Kansas State. He had 4 catches for a game-high 165 yards at Oregon, including a 93-yard TD (the longest catch of his career). He had a game-high 6 receptions for 46 yards against Stanford. At Washington, he caught 3 passes for 93 yards, including a 58-yard TD. He added 5 receptions for 127 yards (both game highs) versus Arizona State, 2 catches for 16 yards at Notre Dame, 5 grabs for 64 yards (both team bests) at Arizona and 5 catches for 73 yards (both team highs) against Oregon State. At California, he caught a team-best 4 passes for a game-high 88 yards, including a 5-yard TD, and also ran 2 reverses for 23 yards. He caught 2 passes for 3 yards against UCLA and ran 2 reverses for 6 yards. He added a team-high 3 receptions for 33 yards (with a 22-yarder) against Utah.
Kelly started at wide receiver as a sophomore in 2000. He started 8 times (Penn State, Colorado, San Jose State, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame) at split end and once (California) at flanker. He missed the Arizona game after spraining his ankle and straining his quad at Oregon State. He was the much-used backup in the other 2 games (Oregon and Washington State). Overall in 2000 while appearing in 11 games, he led USC in receptions (55) and yardage (796 yards) for a 14.5 average with 4 TDs. He also carried the ball 5 times on reverses for 8 yards (1.6 avg.) and returned 6 punts for 22 yards (3.7 avg.). His 55 catches in 2000 is tied for 10th on USC's season list and is the most ever by a USC sophomore. By the end of 2000, he had 109 career receptions for 1,698 yards, with both marks being the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore season.
Kelly had 2 catches for 15 yards against Penn State, then a career-best 10 catches for 145 yards (both game highs) against Colorado. Against San Jose State, he had a game-high 7 catches for 106 yards (including a 61-yard TD). He had 1 for 11 yards at Oregon State before suffering a strained right quad which sidelined him for the Arizona contest. He returned for the Oregon game and had 3 grabs for 45 yards. He had a team-best 4 catches for 51 yards at Stanford, then a game-high 5 catches for 42 yards against California (he also had 2 carries for 8 yards) and 6 receptions for a game-high 85 yards at Arizona State. He had a game-high 7 catches for 114 yards (with a 34-yard TD) against Washington State, then a game-high 6 catches for 91 yards (with a 39-yard TD) at UCLA and 4 catches for a game-best 91 yards (with a 59-yard TD) against Notre Dame.
In 1999, Kelly had the best season that any Pac-10 freshman wide receiver ever had. As the often-used backup to Windrell Hayes (he even started the Oregon State and Arizona games when Hayes was injured), he appeared in all 12 games in 1999 and caught 54 passes (second on USC) for a team-best 902 yards (team-high 16.7 avg.) with 4 TDs. He set Pac-10 and USC freshman records for most catches (54, 11th on USC's single season chart) and receiving yards (902, the most by a Trojan since Keyshawn Johnson had 1,434 in 1995). He was third in the Pac-10 in receiving yards (75.2). He was the only Trojan with a catch in every game in 1999. He had 4 outings with 100 receiving yards (104 at Hawaii, 100 at Arizona, 129 against Stanford and 170 at California). He was named the 1999 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and to the 1999 The Sporting News Freshman All-American second team. He also returned 5 punts for 14 yards (2.8 avg.) and ran 2 reverses for 17 yards (8.5 avg.).
He began his USC career impressively, catching 5 passes for a game-best 104 yards at Hawaii. Against San Diego State, he had 6 catches for 98 yards (both game highs), including a 13-yard TD in the fourth quarter (the game's decisive points) as he outleaped an Aztec defender (who ripped off his helmet on the tackle). He had 5 catches for 87 yards at Oregon, 3 receptions for 56 yards against Oregon State, and then 6 catches for 100 yards at Arizona. At Notre Dame, he hauled in a spectacular 58-yard pass to set up a score. He caught 8 passes for 129 yards (both game bests) against Stanford, then had 9 catches for 170 yards (both career and game bests) with a 72-yard TD (a USC 1999 long reception) at California. He had 6 catches for 51 yards against Arizona State, added a 10-yard reception at Washington State, had 3 grabs for 32 yards (with touchdowns of 22 and 5 yards) against UCLA and 1 for 7 yards versus Louisiana Tech.
Kelly, a 3-time California state prep sprint champion, has sprinted for the USC track team.
In the spring of 2002, his only track appearance came as the anchor leg on USC's sprint relay team at the NCAA meet which finished fifth in 39.27 (the squad also was third in its heat in 39.28).
In the spring of 2001, he competed in a pair of March meets before spring football practice began. He won his heat in the 100 meters (10.53) at the Trojan Invitational. He also anchored USC's victorious 400-meter relay squads at the Trojan Invitational (40.29) and the USC-LSU Dual Meet (39.39). He did not return to the track squad after spring football drills because of a slight hamstring strain.
In the spring of 2000, he competed in February and March before having to sit out because of eligibility reasons. In his Trojan sprinting debut, he clocked a world junior record and American collegiate record 5.67 to place second in the 50-meter dash in the Los Angeles Indoor Invitational (it was tied for the ninth fastest time in the world in 2000). He then won a heat in the 100 meters at the Trojan Invitational in 10.33 and was fifth in the 100 meters at the ASU USTCA Invitational in 10.57. He also anchored the victorious 400-meter relay teams at the Trojan Invitational (clocking a 40.08) and USC's Centennial Invitational (39.18). He qualified for the World Junior Championships in the 100 and 200.
He was a 1998 Super Prep All-American, Prep Star Dream Team Top 100, ESPN Top 100, The Sporting News 101 Prime Prospects, Rivalnet Top 100, USA Today All-USA honorable mention, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-Western, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team (unanimous selection), Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Las Vegas Sun Super 11 first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division I first team, Los Angeles Times All-South Coast/Southeast and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team as a senior at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High. In 1998, he had 50 receptions for 1,096 yards (21.9 avg.) and 17 TDs. He had one game with 8 catches for 181 yards and 3 TDs. Long Beach Poly was a CIF Division I finalist.
As a 1997 junior, he made All-CIF Southern Section second team, All-CIF Division I first team, Long Beach Press-Telegram second team and All-League while catching 43 passes for 560 yards (13.0 avg.) and 9 TDs. Long Beach Poly was the CIF Division I champion. In his 3-year career, his team went 36-5. Current Trojans DeShaun Hill, Mike Pollard, Darrell Rideaux, Hershel Dennis and Winston Justice also prepped at Long Beach Poly.
He also starred on Long Beach Poly's track team, which won the 1997 and 1998 state titles. As a junior, he was the 1998 state 200-meter champion in a meet-record 20.76 and a member of the state winning 400-meter relay squad. As a senior at the 1999 Arcadia Invitational, he was first in the 200 meters (21.27). At the 1999 CIF Division I meet, he was second in the 100 (10.54) and 200 (21.04), and ran on the winning 400?meter relay quartet. At the 1999 CIF Masters meet, he won the 100 (wind?aided 10.30, tied for 12th in the world on the under-20 windy list in 1999) and 200 (wind?aided 20.61, fourth fastest under-20 windy mark in the world in 1999) and ran a leg on Poly's state record?setting victorious 400?meter relay team (40.14). He was the 1999 state champion in the 100 (10.47 wind?aided) and 200 (20.76 wind?aided), and ran a leg on the state meet record?setting 400?meter relay squad (40.33). His best times are 10.28 in the 100 meters (the top time in the state in 1998) and 20.53 in the 200.
He's a sociology major at USC. His sports hero is Muhammad Ali. His cousin is ex-USC safety (1995-98) Rashard Cook, now in the NFL.
KAREEM KELLY ON:
His ability: "If I'm on top of my game, I don't see any way a defensive back can stop me. I'm not a one-dimensional player. I have speed, soft hands and I play physical…I don't think anyone in the country can catch me from behind…When people sleep on me, that's my opportunity to open up my arsenal…I want to work hard and be considered one of the best receivers ever to play at USC. I feel I'm a difference maker…I want to show everyone who Kareem Kelly is. He's a guy who comes to work with a lunch pail ready to compete on every down…If you're on the defensive side of the ball, I don't have too much love for you…I know the sky is the limit for me. I know if I work hard I can perform well…But there's always room for improvement. I'm never content with my play. I'm still trying to get better."
His philosophy: "You can't take any plays off, and you have to work hard and give it all you've got while staying focused and humble. Just be a complete football player."
Being compared to former Trojan star receivers Lynn Swann and Keyshawn Johnson: "I don't think I should be compared to them. They're on a higher pedestal…Keyshawn has been my inspiration. I really look up to him. He overcame a lot of obstacles. There were people out there doubting him, but he overcame things…I don't really play like Keyshawn, but watching him has taught me that I need to sharpen my routes and learn to read defenses. And I need to improve my hands. If I do those things, I will help the team win and also attain my goal of winning the Biletnikoff Award someday…I want to be the best in whatever I do. I want to be the best receiver in the country. I want to be the best receiver to come out of USC. I want to reach the same level as Keyshawn and Randy Moss."
His speed: "I was always faster than the other guys, even when I was little. My friends who knew me would place bets on me and I'd race the older guys. I'd be about 10 and would beat guys who were 13 or 14. That's when I knew that I was blessed with speed."
His doubters: "Those doubters are back. I'm hearing whispers that I'm not really a complete player. I'm hearing, 'Kelly is just fast, he's all hype.' That's why I worked hard in the summer…I understand wny people say those things. I wasn't in shape coming into my sophomore year. I thought, 'I had a big year as a freshman, I don't have to do that much in the summer.'…At one point, my confidence was down. It took a lot out of me and took a lot for me to realize what caused the mediocre season in 2000."
Running track: "It helps you with your confidence. On the track it's just you by yourself. If you take that attitude to the football field, as far as the confidence level, it's going to be boosted because you feel no one out there can see you. That's the approach I bring to the football field and it has helped me physically and mentally."
The tatoo of Bob Marley on his left arm: "It means I'm a soldier."
Basketball: "Basketball was my first love. Lots of kids have 'hoop dreams' growing up and I was one of them. I played the off-guard spot and I could shoot really well. I was dunking in the eighth grade, even though I was only 5-8. After a while, though, my coaches convinced me to start running track."
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
USC quarterback Carson Palmer: "Any time you're a quarterback and you've got a guy like Kareem, you love it. With his speed and the way he goes after the ball, you can't not have confidence in him. The desire he has for catching balls and making plays just makes it easier on me and the whole offense."
USC tailback Sultan McCullough: "He's a deep threat. He's agile and, with his speed, he makes plays. When he's out there, the defense can't just key on a certain guy. They have to key on him and it opens up the running game."
Former USC tailback Chad Morton: "He's going to be one of the game's greats. That's the Biletnikoff Award winner right there."
USC cornerback Darrell Rideaux, his prep teammate: "He's competitive on the field and in the classroom. On the field, he's got this macho, flashy athletic appearance. But he's got a sensitive side. He makes people feel comfortable…He's got good hands and he's physical. We battle all the time…He has confidence, and it oozes. You can't miss it."
Steve Bisheff, Orange County Register: "Kareem Kelly catches the ball with more flair than anyone at USC since Lynn Swann. Keyshawn Johnson? Sure, he was a great college receiver. But he was more physical, exuding power and strength. Kelly, like Swann, is about finesse and acrobatic, ballet-like moves. Kareem is R. Jay Soward, with even more speed and a better attitude…Neither Swann nor Johnson could run as fast as Kelly. Few can…He is the playmaker at USC. He is the home run hitter. He is Ken Griffey Jr. in a helmet and shoulder pads."
Karen Crouse, Los Angeles Daily News: "Kareem Kelly has more tools than a carpenter. Before he's through, he could add on another wing to Heritage Hall. He has height, heart, great hands, a gazelle's gait and as many gears as a Ferrari…He's just naturally equipped for success…He is an astute student of the game. On the field, the only thing churning faster than his legs is his mind."
Long Beach Poly track coach Don Norford: "His gait is so smooth and relaxed that you really can't judge how fast Kareem is. It's like when a cheetah attacks the gazelle. The gazelle doesn't realize how fast the cheetah is until it's right into him. With Kareem, a cornerback thinks he has an angle on him, then he shifts into another gear. And Kareem has about three or four more gears he can use."
|1999 (Fr.)…|| 54|| 902|| 16.7|| 4||72|| 2|| 17||17.0|| 0||11|
|2000 (So.)…|| 55|| 796|| 14.5|| 4||61|| 5|| 8|| 1.6|| 0||12|
|2001 (Jr.)…|| 49|| 801|| 16.3|| 3||93|| 6|| 38|| 6.3|| 0||17|
|2002 (Sr.)…|| 46|| 605|| 13.2|| 4||65|| 1|| 1|| 1.0|| 0|| 1|
|CAREER…….||204||3104|| 15.2||15||93|| 14|| 64|| 4.6|| 0||17|
|1999 (Fr.)…|| 5|| 14|| 2.8|| 0||10|| 0|| 0/0|| 0|| 0|
|2000 (So.)…|| 6|| 22|| 3.7|| 0||10|| 0|| 0/0|| 0|| 0|
|2001 (Jr.)…|| 8|| 51|| 6.4|| 0||27|| 0|| 0/0|| 0|| 0|
|2002 (Sr.)…||11|| 76|| 6.9|| 0||19|| 1|| 0/0|| 0|| 0|
|CAREER…….||30||163|| 5.4|| 0||27|| 1|| 0/0|| 0|| 0|
|GAME-BY-GAME WITH KAREEM KELLY|
|Auburn*|| 6|| 66||11.0|| 1||18|
|Colorado*|| 4|| 36|| 9.0|| 0||27|
|Kansas State*|| 3|| 42||14.0|| 0||22|
|Oregon State*|| 1|| 6|| 6.0|| 0|| 6|
|Wash. State*|| 8|| 66|| 8.3|| 0||13|
|California*|| 3|| 19|| 6.3|| 1|| 8|
|Washington|| 1|| 16||16.0|| 0||16|
|Oregon|| 6|| 94||15.7|| 1||31|
|Stanford*|| 3|| 69||23.0|| 0||50|
|Arizona State*|| 1|| 11||11.0|| 0||11|
|UCLA*|| 4|| 94||23.5|| 1||41|
|Notre Dame*|| 3|| 12|| 4.9|| 0|| 5|
|Iowa (Orange)*|| 3|| 74||24.7|| 0||65|
|2002 (Sr.)…|| 46||605||13.2|| 4||65|
|San Jose St.*|| 3|| 18|| 6.0|| 0||13|
|Kansas State*|| 7|| 75||10.7|| 0||22|
|Oregon*|| 4||165||41.3|| 1||93|
|Stanford*|| 6|| 46|| 7.7|| 0||24|
|Washington*|| 3|| 93||31.0|| 1||58|
|Arizona State|| 5||127||25.7|| 0||56|
|Notre Dame*|| 2|| 16|| 8.0|| 0||12|
|Arizona*|| 5|| 64||12.8|| 0||33|
|Oregon State*|| 5|| 73||14.6|| 0||45|
|California*|| 4|| 88||22.0|| 1||52|
|UCLA*|| 2|| 3|| 1.5|| 0|| 6|
|Utah (Vegas)*|| 3|| 33||11.0|| 0||22|
|2001 (Jr.)…|| 49||801||16.3|| 3||93|
|Penn State*|| 2|| 15|| 7.5|| 0|| 8|
|Colorado*|| 10||145|| 14.5|| 0||24|
|San Jose St.*|| 7||106|| 15.1|| 1||61|
|Oregon State*|| 1|| 11|| 11.0|| 0||11|
|Oregon|| 3|| 45|| 15.0|| 0||32|
|Stanford*|| 4|| 51|| 12.8|| 0||25|
|California*|| 5|| 42|| 8.4|| 0||13|
|Arizona State*|| 6|| 85|| 14.2|| 0||21|
|Wash. State|| 7||114|| 16.3|| 1||34|
|UCLA*|| 6|| 91|| 15.2|| 1||39|
|Notre Dame*|| 4|| 91|| 22.8|| 1||59|
|2000 (So.)… || 55||796|| 14.5|| 4||61|
|Hawaii|| 5||104|| 20.8|| 0||43|
|San Diego St.|| 9|| 98|| 10.9|| 1||31|
|Oregon|| 5|| 87|| 17.4|| 0||21|
|Oregon State*|| 3|| 56|| 18.7|| 0||37|
|Arizona*|| 6||100|| 16.7|| 0||35|
|Notre Dame|| 1|| 58|| 58.0|| 0||58|
|Stanford|| 8||129|| 16.1|| 0||42|
|California|| 9||170|| 18.9|| 1||72|
|Arizona State|| 6|| 51|| 8.5|| 0||11|
|Wash. State|| 1|| 10|| 10.0|| 0||10|
|UCLA|| 3|| 32|| 10.7|| 2||22|
|La. Tech|| 1|| 7|| 7.0|| 0|| 7|
|1999 (Fr.)…|| 54|| 902|| 16.7|| 4||72|