10 things you should know about Charles Kelly

The lone remaining member of former coach Chan Gailey’s staff, Georgia Tech secondary coach Charles Kelly is in his seventh year at Tech. It is a fitting destination, in a way. His grandfather was a big fan of Bobby Dodd. His father, a high school coach, attended coaching clinics at Tech (among other places).

In the second “10 things” installment, read up on Kelly.

1. Kelly knew from a young age he wanted to get into coaching due to his father’s influence. (I know that Al Groh and Brian Bohannon’s fathers, and possibly others on the staff, were also high school coaches.) Kelly said he dreamed more about coaching than he did playing in the NFL.

“I knew in college,” said Kelly, who walked on at Auburn. “I was around guys that I knew were going to play at that level but that wasn’t for me. But I learned as much about the game as I could.”

Kelly graduated in 1990. Among his teammates were wide receiver Lawyer Tillman, defensive tackle Tracy Rocker and linebacker Aundray Bruce, the first overall pick of the 1988 draft.

2. Kelly, who grew up in Alabama, said he chose Auburn in large part because of coach Pat Dye.

“He was just somebody that you just wanted to play for and be around,” Kelly said. “I thought, at that time, there was no better guy to be under if you wanted to be a coach.”

Dye’s strength, Kelly said, was handling people and molding a team.

“”He was very good at putting a team together, building a team, taking different personalities,” he said. “They weren’t always necessarily the top blue chips. Some guys came there (that) were just hard-nosed guys but he made football players out of them.”

3. Kelly said he’d love to pick the brain of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Kelly called him intriguing.

“From what I’ve seen on the outside, he’s one of those guys that has a profile for guys that he wants and he goes after them no matter what other people might think,” Kelly said. “It might not necessarily be the most popular thing – the guy may not be the most highly rated – but all of the sudden, he takes those guys and he makes a team out of them.”

Incidentally, Kelly works across the hall from someone who has worked several years with Belichick – Groh.

4. Kelly said there are other coaches whom he’d love to be around, including small-college coaches unknown to most.

“I would have liked to have had the opportunity to be around (former Georgia Southern coach) Erk Russell,” he said. “I would have liked that, to see when he was at Georgia Southern, how he started that program. Just some of the stories that I’ve heard from Coach (Paul) Johnson, he would have been an interesting man to be around.”

Before Johnson came to Tech and retained Kelly on his staff, Johnson was another.

“When he was at Georgia Southern, I was just fascinated with how he did what he did,” Kelly said. “It’s just ironic that I wound up coaching with him.”

5. Kelly used to joke around with former Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt about playing safety for him. Nesbitt played both ways in high school and is now playing safety for the Buffalo Bills after making the team as an undrafted rookie free agent.

“I’d say, ‘You come over here with me. Let me get you back here at safety a little bit,’” Kelly said. “Good athlete, but more than that, he was a tough guy.”

6. Kelly and his family (wife Kristy and three daughters) are huge Braves fans and go to about 15 games a year, watch at home and keep track of games if they’re out.

“I kid people all the time. They say they’re Braves fans, I say, ‘O.K., well, give me the starting lineup of the ’84 team,” Kelly said. “I want to find out if you really, really are a Braves fan or if you’re just jumping on and the bandwagon and jumping off.”

7. Kelly said that safety Fred Holton, who returned in the spring from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last August, was ahead of schedule in the spring and improved over the month.

“He’s a good person,” Kelly said. “You like to see a guy that comes back from something like that and is successful. I’m hoping he has a good year.”

While Holton’s strength is his hitting ability, Kelly said that “he was doing some things in the deep field that were impressive to Coach Groh and I both (last August).”

Isaiah Johnson is more adept playing center field. However, Kelly said, “I was watching cut-ups not too long ago and the Miami game, we did a lot of stuff where we were bringing him down and he made some good plays. He’s got to get better at that. That’s one of the things that we worked on (in the spring).”

8. Kelly has never had three cornerbacks at one time who have as much talent and experience as Rod Sweeting, Jemea Thomas and Louis Young. Thomas, he said, has a knack for playmaking that can’t be taught.

“I think you saw that when he was playing in high school,” he said. “Some guys just have that innate ability – just, good athlete, can find the ball, that are explosive, that can tackle, do it all.”

9. A goal of Kelly’s this summer is to spend time with his three girls. One’s a gymnast, another is into music and drama and “hopefully my baby girl, we can get her swimming by the end of the summer.”

Another goal of his had been to run in the AJC Peachtree Road Race, which he’s never done. Kelly, however, didn’t get a number through the lottery.

10. He has also been re-acquainting himself with Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, whom Tech will face Labor Day night in Blacksburg. Thomas, you may recall, had a bit of a field day against the Jacket last November – 209 passing yards on 13 attempts, 18 rushes for 70 yards, accounted for five touchdowns passing or running.

“It’s something that we’ve already started watching video,” Kelly said. “But, yeah, I’ll spend a good bit of time on that this summer.”

Also, 10 things you didn’t know about Al Groh. Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

43 comments Add your comment


June 26th, 2012
10:09 am

Good man! Good Luck Coach….


June 26th, 2012
10:09 am

Really think the secondary will be one of the team strengths. If holton can make a successful return, we will have one of the top secondaries in the acc. This will take some of the pressure off the new d-line.


June 26th, 2012
10:12 am

still, this D starts with the NT……


June 26th, 2012
10:16 am

CCK is one of the good guys,


June 26th, 2012
10:17 am

True on the NT, but its also one of the least complicated positions to learn. Perhaps pat gamble or Gotsis may get some pt as true freshmen.

Ken, do you see any newcomers in the secondary getting time or challenging the starters?


June 26th, 2012
10:53 am

Good stuff, Ken….thanks!


June 26th, 2012
11:02 am

It is funny to compare and contrast Ken’s 10 Things articles with Chip’s. Ken’s are all substantive information and Chip’s are all fluff. Ken is the only writer at the AJC worth reading anymore and we are d–n lucky to have him covering the Jackets. Thanks Ken!


June 26th, 2012
11:05 am

Right on, HighTech.

Ken is a great writer and I hope he sticks around for a long while. I always enjoy these articles.


Athens Tech

June 26th, 2012
11:12 am

Agreed. Nice article

5150 UOAD

June 26th, 2012
11:14 am

Aundray Bruce, the first overall pick of the 1988 draft……………..HE SUCKED and the Falcons got screwed in the draft again.


June 26th, 2012
11:19 am

a HUGE shoutout to the Tech student who shot the intruder. Now THAT that is how you deal with the thugs that have invaded your campus!!. A few more Tech students packing heat would prob run the criminals back across Northside Drive. APD obviously can’t do a damn thing., so you guys .may as well start shooting..just dont shoot at anything red unless it’s Saturday. :)

Ken Sugiura

June 26th, 2012
11:21 am

chas_jacket – i think the five starters (johnson, holton, sweeting, thomas, young) are pretty entrenched. Jamal Golden would likely be the No. 4 cornerback and play in dime coverages. Corey Dennis had a pretty good spring, also.
As far as nose tackle, I think T.J. Barnes might be ready to turn the corner. (given that he’s a senior, it has to be this year, obviously, but he may be ready.)
You guys are way too kind. For what it’s worth, I liked Chip’s 10 things with Garner, and I don’t say that only because he’s a friend and colleague. I thought there was some good stuff in there. Where you come from often says a lot about who you are.

5150 UOAD

June 26th, 2012
11:27 am

Finally………….A Tech Student did what the Joke cops can’t do.
Cops are only good for writing tickets and cleaning up the MESS after the fact. Cops don’t Stop Crime! Gun toting Home owners do!!!

Hayseed Dixie

June 26th, 2012
11:30 am

Hoped you’d ask em about music again: knowing that CAG is a Van Halen fan raises my admiration of the man considerably.

I’ll understand if you’re shielding any, say, Bee Gees fans from scrutiny, however.


Let’s hope T.J. Barnes plays all season like he did against Clemson. His story is one of the most intriguing heading into the season- he’s one of those guys that, if he decides to show up consistently, can single-handedly change our season.

5150 UOAD

June 26th, 2012
11:34 am

T.J. looked slimmed down in the Spring Game. I think the Running program has worked on him.


June 26th, 2012
11:41 am

Thanks Ken,
Agree Barnes is a key but its unusual for anyone to make a huge jump in consistency year to year. If the secondary starters keep healthy, they will help the overall defense. Experience/ depth is a concern though.


June 26th, 2012
11:58 am

i know i’m redundant on the NT thing(something i try to avoid), but the 3-4 starts there……….(OK, since i’m being repetitive, SHOTGUN!)


June 26th, 2012
12:10 pm

Good Coach. Best recruiter GT has, I wish CPJ let him play a larger role. DC, RC, Asst. H. Coach??? Will make a good low HC one day!

William Casey

June 26th, 2012
1:14 pm

@JUVENAL: I’m joining you in your double redundantcy. TJ MUST “come of age” and I’d love to see a “Vad Lee shotgun package” added to the offensive arsenal.

BS Patrol

June 26th, 2012
1:40 pm

But can they stop anybody on 3rd & 15? So far they haven’t proved they can. Way too much cushion.

old dog

June 26th, 2012
1:52 pm

He was right about Nesbitt…..that kid could play some DB in high school (Greene County.) Nesbitt made the team and will probably play, showing that y’all can in fact bring in good athletes.

unbiased committee

June 26th, 2012
2:05 pm

Logan Thomas is 0-2 against Clemson.

Delbert D.

June 26th, 2012
4:04 pm

VT has almost all of their defense back. Against Tech last year however, the VT defense didn’t really decide the game. Logan Thomas, David Wilson, Danny Coale and the rest of the offense did, winning the time of possession and converting on 3rd downs (along with that critical personal foul on Attoachu, and several misfires on passes). VT returns only 3 starters on offense this season: Thomas, the fullback and the center. This is a year when it’s good to catch them early, but the defense really has do it by containing Thomas when he runs and playing solid pass defense. Several mistakes were made by the DBs; mis-timed jumps stick out in my mind from the game.


June 26th, 2012
4:30 pm

Yeah, UOAD: Tech student shoots another Tech student who was high on drugs and thinking he was at his own house. Joke cops could’t have stopped that. Imagine that – a college student high on drugs. Probably thought he was in Athens, right?

And it’s gratifying that Coach Kelly wanted to play for a former Georgia All-American, and wishes he could’ve spent time around a former Georgia coach.

FL Jacket

June 26th, 2012
5:12 pm

I agree about Coach Kelly, I hope he is being groomed to take over the DC role after CAG retires. He’s a high-energy guy who, along with Coach Buzz Preston, is our best recruiter.


June 26th, 2012
5:20 pm

A lota good stuff in that article. Nice job!

5150 UOAD

June 26th, 2012
6:26 pm

First play on Offense for TECH against VT………Could it be a Shotgun Formation?

Jim 70

June 26th, 2012
6:46 pm

0-2 vs Clemson because they have more weight on the d-line. We couldn’t stop Logan walking up the middle last year. Hopefully we will do better this year, especially since I live in the middle of vt country and hate them worse than uga.

ole ball coach

June 26th, 2012
7:19 pm

First to let you know from 1st hand knowledge, Tech could have a 4 star recruit join the fold after Friday, 6′4 285 and runs 4.61!!!

ole ball coach

June 26th, 2012
7:20 pm

And will be immediately elligible!!

GT Dude

June 26th, 2012
8:10 pm

Last year against VT we tried to strip the ball instead of putting Logan’s big arse on the ground. Hopefully our coaches change that tactic this year, just drop him when you hit him!

A person SMART enough to know.....

June 26th, 2012
10:06 pm

Great article Ken. Question though, do you think Vad Lee gets a look at DB this year? I’ve heard he is a better prospect at Safety than QB. Thx.


June 27th, 2012
5:09 am

I’m beginning to get excited about the season. Let’s get the white and old gold going.

[...] 10 Things You Should Know About Charles Kelly (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) [...]

dry dirt road

June 27th, 2012
10:22 am

To dagnabit: I’m a Tech grad, and I’m not excited at all. I realize that Tech has about as much of a chance as a snowball in Hell to play in the 4 team national championship playoff coming up in two seasons. The chance of Tech going to the Rose Bowl parade bowl or Sugar Bowl is just not there except for occasional deviations from the norm. Tech is just a brainy school and not all that much a sports school. We can try to play in the playoffs, but that’s just a try. I agree with you, though, about getting old gold going, which there is a dearth of at Tech, but is purported to be one of Tech’s colors.


June 27th, 2012
10:41 am

Oh no…please don’t get dry dirt road (aka ormewood) rambling about uniform colors again or next season for that matter…curmudgeons rarely get excited about anything!

dry dirt road

June 27th, 2012
11:44 am

To George P. Burdell: dagnabit mentioned old gold first, not me. As Tech grad, I specifically recall when some Tech sports info wa released describing the pageantry associated with Tech football games, of which unis are a part of. Tech has actually worn old gold, for two years under Carson, and for one game under Gailey. CPJ’s first year unis arguably were old gold striped. Old gold is good! What is not good is for an ACC school to be excluded from playing in the “parade bowl” and having the ramblin wreck able to be driven in that parade, and having played in the Rose Bowl already. What Tech gets instead is the ramblin wreck parade in front of Rose Bowl Field, “The Flats”. But Tech just does not usually fit in with any playoff games and we never did except for occasionally. I went to Tech when we had the old gold unis, and I aslo liked the white helmets then, which of course are also not found at Tech anymore. The colors of football pageantry don’t necessarily have to appeal to females. School spirit has no sexual basis to my knowledge, but apparently it does to you. A guy would have to be blind as a bat to not see the uni colors of the Tech fotball players.

dry dirt road

June 27th, 2012
11:52 am

info “was”, not info “wa”; people telephone me and I have to answer the important calls I was expecting, so I don’t have time to proofread- sorry; this blue book is getting less personally written as my life goes on so I find


June 27th, 2012
1:16 pm

Nice post about a good guy. I know coach and his family, and above the coaching he is a good husband and terrific father.

Tim Matthews

June 27th, 2012
3:32 pm

I grew up with Charles and he is a great person. This is a great article and he deserves the recognition.


June 27th, 2012
5:25 pm

Nice article. I think the shotgun begins on Memorial Day. CPJ worked it too much in the Spring, and the kids are too excited about it, for him not to use it. I was fully expecting to see it in the Spring game, but I am sure he didn’t want to tip his hand. If he implements it, and it has the success that many think it may, the sky will be the limit! We are getting too many athletes to not utilize their strengths.

Not Disappointed!

June 27th, 2012
5:36 pm

Good luck this year Coach Kelly!

dry dirt road

June 27th, 2012
10:36 pm

would rather have seen Jeff Ford as db coach; he led nation in ints one year with 3