In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a dynamic, All-American edge rusher who could easily work his way into the rotation as a freshman: Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Dillard 4-star DE Nyjalik Kelly.
Gonna cheat slightly, but Kelly just committed today at his NSD ceremony, and that means I just wrote and posted his Welcome to the U piece. So read that for the bio:
#WelcomeToTheU, Nyjalik Kelly. All-American DE @Nyjalikkelly commits to the hometown #Canes over Auburn, Florida, LSU, FSU, Georgia, and many others. A MASSIVE recruiting win for Mario Cristobal and company. YOU LOVE TO SEE IT!!!! https://t.co/hr3UALzm4u pic.twitter.com/xo4bwKzcpq— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) December 15, 2021
On the 247sports composite, Kelly is a 4-star prospect, the #13 DE nationally, #12 in the State of Florida, and #84 player overall in this class. Kelly surpasses CB Khamauri Rogers as the highest rated player in this recruiting class so far.
Kelly committed to Miami over offers from Auburn, Florida, FSU, Georgia, and LSU from a list of 28 scholarship offers from around the country
As A Player
First off, Kelly has a game ready body at 6’4” 240lbs. No he’s not the biggest edge rusher in the world, but he’s not some 205lb stick who is gonna need a full season or more to get to the point where he can see the field. That’s not to say that 15-20lbs wouldn’t do him good, because they will. But that’s not keeping him from the field early on, if ever.
And with that additional physical development will come more raw power/sheer grown-man strength for Kelly. He’ll need that going up against College OL.
Kelly shows good burst and short area quickness on film. He’s a former basketball player (and for those who don’t know Dillard HS is one of the top legacy basketball programs, boys and girls, in the State of Florida, so that’s saying something) and he showcases that athleticism on the football field. There are few HS OTs who can keep up with Kelly’s first step, and he’ll look to use that quickness to great advantage in college as well.
Kelly has worked on both ends of the line, and should be able to continue that. Obviously, offensive alignment sometimes dictates where the DL will line up, but there’s nothing to keep Kelly from lining up wherever needed or playing whichever technique he needs to play to help the defense.
One thing that’s good but can get better is Kelly’s use of hands. Keeping linemen off you at the college level is a tougher challenge than HS, so that will be key to allow him to get up the field to wreak havoc for the Canes defense.
Kelly shows good outside moves on film. He has a stutter-step inside counter move as well, but that can become tighter. With Kelly’s elite athleticism and quickness, he should be a monster on T-E stunts, especially coming inside on the twist to work against guards and centers, who are strong, sure, but probably not quick enough to stop him consistently.
Kelly also shows good production as a run defender, which isn’t shocking given his size. Oh yeah, and he’s very productive as a pass rusher with 25 sacks to his credit in his last 2 years of HSFB (while also adding nearly 50 TFLs, for good measure).
For another eval of Kelly, here’s what 247sports Southeast Recruiting Analyst Andrew Ivins wrote:
A fluid, athletic big man that can get after the quarterback. Young for his grade and won’t turn 18 years old until midway through his freshman year of college. Quick first step allows him to fire off the ball and get vertical. Flexibility allows him to bend and run the corner. Does a nice job of getting home and making the play more times than not. Has developed a few go-to pass rushing moves, but still could add a few more to the toolbox, which should happen once he’s studying under a veteran defensive line coach. Understands how to stack and shed, but will eventually need to find some more power if he wants to hold his own against college-sized blockers on a consistent basis. Totaled 13 sacks as a junior and then 12 more as a senior facing top competition every week down in South Florida. Did, however, miss some time due to a few linger injuries, which could be something to keep an eye on down the line. Viewed by some college recruiters as a true edge player at the next level, but could very well end up shifting inside as his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame is only going to keep filling out. Should emerge as a multi-year starter and potentially an all-conference type of a player for a Top 25 program. NFL upside if everything comes together.
- Overall athleticism
- Can improve hand work
- Still needs physical development
- Needs more raw power
Note: changed this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player last year and we’re continuing that style this year as well.
Miami needs talented edge rushers to improve the defense, and Kelly is that, for sure. He’s a player who should earn rotation snaps as a freshman at a minimum, and emerge into a star player for the defense moving forward.
As the highest rated player in the class so far, it’s no stretch to look at Kelly being an All-Conference performer in his career, hopefully multiple times. He’s got all the talent in the world, and with proper development, he could be next in line for star DEs coming from the Miami program.
And, with this being Mario Cristobal’s first big recruiting win as Miami’s coach, we could look back on this recruitment and career as a turning point for the program finally moving forward in the direction we have all desperately wanted to see for a good, long time.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.