Kelly a keeper as UH kicker ... and other minor roles
The temptation is to just make a list of all the humorous things that come out of Dan Kelly's mouth, and call it a day.
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But there's something else going on here. Maybe a lot.
"He's hilarious," said his snapper, Jake Ingram.
"I'm an entertainer," said Kelly, the kicker for the Hawaii football team.
Warrior fans enjoyed his act 60 out of 67 times last year. The other seven? They were not amused. All they want from their kicker is to make the kicks. When he misses, they want him gone. They don't care if he's a fun guy to have around.
Kelly was asked if people should give him a break, since his overall statistics are good compared to other kickers.
"Stats? Why should I care about stats when Colt (quarterback Brennan) doesn't, and he has the best stats in football," he said.
Ingram has confidence in the junior from Temecula, Calif., even if his reasoning is a little suspect.
"He's a great guy and a great kicker. He really feels bad about letting everyone down when he misses. But the good thing is when he misses, he comes back and hits five in a row. I wouldn't want anyone else kicking my snaps."
Coach June Jones has had faith in Kelly's ability and potential since he walked on two years ago.
"He's a strong kicker with a lot of potential and we see him getting better and better," Jones said recently.
Even if Kelly isn't an entertainer, it is true he comes from a family of them. His parents and all five of his brothers and sisters are involved in theater. So he's used to being the oddball, since he was a soccer savant growing up in a house full of thespians.
Is it like being a kicker doing drills with defensive linemen?
The other day, Kelly wasn't doing anything, so D-line coach Jeff Reinebold grabbed him and had him throw footballs -- hard, from just a few feet away -- at the charging tackles and ends, who were to bat the balls down. Let's put it this way; we don't think Dan is related to Jim.
"I thought I was putting some pretty good heat on it," Kelly said. "But they just kept catching it. Great athletes to be that big and that agile."
He said he respects the defensive linemen ... for their intelligence.
"They're supposed to be big, dumb animals. A lot of them are the smartest guys on the team. Keala's (Watson) a genius."
Kelly was never on a football team until he was a sophomore at Linfield Christian School. lt had been all soccer before that.
"I always thought football players were meatheads. I was wrong," he said. "To be a good football player you have to be smart. If you're not, you're going to end up watching from the side while the smart guy who's got as much athletic ability as you is playing."
Kelly has worked hard to prove himself worthy of the title football player rather than just football kicker. He seems to enjoy tackling kick returners as much as he does kicking balls out of the end zone.
"I was in the weight room everyday," Kelly said of his offseason training. "I also did a lot of running, 9 1/2 mile jogs. I've found that during the season my legs would tire, so I had to get stronger."
He also worked as an instructor at a weekly kicking camp for kids, working out with other college and pro kickers.
Kelly and all of his siblings were home-schooled and all were born at home.
"Even the twins," said the Kelly patriarch, Pat. "The neighbors thought we were crazy."
Dan said growing up in a house of actors and budding actors was one drama after another, and the needle was never spared.
"It was orderly chaos. Remember the Brady Bunch? We did everything together," Kelly said. "You could always find someone to pick on, but it was all in a loving way. Every Sunday all eight of us together. People who came over would be so uncomfortable. How can you be so mean to each other?"
Kelly said soccer became an escape from his childhood challenges of dyslexia and a speech impediment.
He now majors in speech, and plans to return to school when he's done playing football for psychology courses with the intent of becoming a speech therapist.
After home-schooling most of his childhood, Kelly attended school full-time at Linfield Christian.
"He could've gone for just a couple of classes and participated in the sports and other activities," Pat Kelly said. "But after talking to the admissions people, we decided let's just do this all the way."
One day recently, Kelly didn't kick a ball correctly during a drill.
Special teams coordinator Dennis McKnight growled, "You've got just one thing to do!"
Kelly knows it's part of the deal -- because of his role on the team, his errors are magnified.
"People let me know when I screw up," he said.
He still stands around a lot, waiting for his time to succeed or fail. But Kelly looks forward to other opportunities to help the team, like throwing balls at defensive linemen at point-blank range.
"I always found a way to get out of stuff," he said. "Now it's, 'Can I do that? Yes I can.' "