Penn State dismisses freshman linebacker Kelly
A newly arrived linebacker's time with Penn State is over before it really started.
The Nittany Lions announced Saturday morning that true freshman Daiquan Kelly had been dismissed from the team for a "violation of team rules." No further detail was given.
"I love the staff and teammates at Penn State and always will. That is family!!!" Kelly wrote on Twitter a few hours after his dismissal was announced. "Right now I am focused on getting back in the classroom and onto the football field so I can flip the page to another chapter of my life and continue to pursue my passion and dream of getting a degree and playing football at the collegiate level."
Kelly signed with Penn State in February out of Union City High School in New Jersey and made it to campus along with most of his class in June. The first practice of training camp for the 2015 season was on Thursday.
He becomes the first scholarship player both recruited and signed by coach James Franklin to Penn State to leave the team. This past offseason quarterback Michael O'Connor elected to transfer for competitive reasons, but O'Connor had initially committed to Franklin's predecessor, Bill O'Brien. The Lions have had relatively few off-field issues with their roster in recent years with the spotlight firmly fixed on the program in the wake of NCAA sanctions.
Kelly is the third Lions player to leave the team for disciplinary reasons since Franklin took over as coach at the beginning of 2014, following offensive lineman Anthony Alosi and cornerback Da'Quan Davis.
Under O'Brien, the most prominent departures were wideout Devon Smith and defensive end Shawn Oakman, who is now one of the country's top players after transferring to Baylor.
When Penn State had the rest of its scholarships restored last fall by the NCAA, Kelly was one of the first beneficiaries, receiving an offer that hadn't been available earlier.
Kelly had initially been committed to Syracuse, but after receiving the offer from Penn State, he took a visit to see the Lions beat Rutgers in Piscataway last September and pledged to Franklin the next day.
The Newark native was rated a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings as one of the top 10 players in New Jersey.
He was one of three linebackers in Penn State's most recent signing class along with Archbishop Wood's Jake Cooper and fellow New Jersey native Manny Bowen.
One of Kelly's teammates at Union City, offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez, also signed with the Lions in February.
Recruited by different schools as both a linebacker and a safety, Kelly had checked into camp at 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, most likely headed for a redshirt in 2015. But that flexibility was something the coaching staff was specifically looking for when they signed him.
"He's a guy that basically played safety, but he's a big safety," Franklin said of Kelly on signing day. "He's going to be able to move down and play that field linebacker spot and give us some athleticism."
"Daiquan Kelly and Manny Bowen are guys that are extremely athletic," said assistant coach Terry Smith, who serves as defensive recruiting coordinator, on signing day. "We were looking for that outside linebacker, hybrid guy. We wanted to find players that you don't have to substitute for in your nickel package. You also want to get guys who will play down in the box and tackle. We feel that they have a chance to become the type of players that we need."