Tennessee running back John Kelly declares for the NFL Draft

Tennessee junior running back John Kelly announced Friday afternoon that he will be forgoing his senior season and declaring for the NFL Draft.

Kelly announced his decision on Instagram, saying, “I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft and thank so many that were instrumental in getting me to where I am today.”

“From my time in Detroit to my collegiate career at Tennessee, words can’t express my gratitude to everyone that has helped me throughout my journey. To my friends and family, I want to thank you for always being there for me. To my teammates, and coaching staff, I want to thank you for always pushing me to better myself and grow on and off the field. To Vol Nation, I want to thank you for all your support through all of the highs and lows.

“I will always call Neyland Stadium home.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft and thank so many that were instrumental in getting me to where I am today. From my time in Detroit to my collegiate career at Tennessee, words can’t express my gratitude to everyone that has helped me throughout my journey. To my friends and family, I want to thank you for always being there for me. To my teammates, and coaching staff, I want to thank you for always pushing me to better myself and grow on and off the field. To Vol Nation, I want to thank you for all of your support through all of the highs and lows. I will always call Neyland Stadium home. As I take the next step in my career, I will never forget where it all began. Detroit and Tennessee will always be a part of me at every step of this journey and I promise to always represent you well. With everything you’ve given to me, that’s the least I can do for you all. From the bottom of my heart – thank you, all. Go Vols!

A post shared by John M. Kelly ll (@jkshuttlesworth) on


Kelly declares for the NFL Draft following a breakout junior season on Rocky Top. Before the season began, the Detroit native conducted an interview with Marcus Spears of the SEC Network, stating that he viewed himself as the best running back in the SEC and that he couldn’t wait to prove it.

During the 2017 campaign, Kelly ranked second in the SEC and 25th in the country in yards per game from scrimmage with 118.3. He also ranked seventh in the SEC in rushing yards per game (86.8) and eighth in rushing touchdowns with eight.

He finished the season rushing for 778 yards and nine touchdowns on 189 carries in 11 games. Kelly missed the Kentucky game due to suspension.

Against Florida, Kelly had the best game of his career, rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. He also caught six passes for 96 yards.

In the opener against Georgia Tech, Kelly had an outstanding game as he rushed for a career-high four rushing touchdowns to go along with 128 rushing yards.

Kelly finishes his career at Tennessee having rushed for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns on 327 carries. Through the air, Kelly recorded 43 catches for 350 yards.

As a fan favorite during his time in Knoxville, Kelly says that as he takes the next step in his career, he’ll never forget where it all began.

“Detroit and Tennessee will always be a part of me at every step of the journey and I promise to always represent you well,” Kelly said. “With everything you’ve given to me, that’s the least I can do for you all. From the bottom of my heart – thank you, all.”

“Go Vols!”

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics