Though many different influences shape a running back's game, one of John Kelly's biggest inspirations is a little unusual.
The Tennessee running back credits his youthful obsession with skateboarding for inspiring his running style and approach to football. Kelly cites psyching himself up to perform a trick on a skateboard as a skill he uses now on the field.
"When you'd be at the top just looking down at 13 stairs and be like, 'Whoa. That's a lot of stairs,' you just have to just forget about it all and just go for it," Kelly told Jesse Simonton of Volquest.com. "That's just how I think when I run the ball. The gap isn't always going to be there, but when it is you can't hesitate. You have to just go for it. It taught me how to fall. I don't want to just faceplant every time I get hit."
Skateboarding was more than just a casual activity for Kelly. At around 12 or 13, he started working toward turning pro. After he skipped a couple of summer football practices in order to skate, however, his high school coaches convinced him to focus on the gridiron.
"Man, they came up there like four deep," Kelly said of their visit to a skate park where he was practicing. "They were like, 'Football is your future!' So I was like, 'Man, I guess I'll give this football thing a real shot.'"
The decision appears to be working out well for Kelly. After sharing carries in the Volunteers' backfield last season and scoring five touchdowns, Kelly's going into 2017 as the starter.
- With h/t to SEC Country
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