Tennessee Team News

Tennessee’s ‘legacy DBs’ hoping to make same impact as their dads

Todd Kelly Jr. vs South Carolina, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – At some point this season, perhaps in the opener, Tennessee legacy players Todd Kelly Jr. and Nigel Warrior will line up side-by-side at free and strong safety.

Their dads, Todd Kelly Sr. and Dale Carter, played on the same defense at Tennessee 25 years ago.

Dale Carter

Dale Carter was one of the top cornerbacks in the nation when he played at Tennessee in the early 1990s, and he was taken 20th overall by Kansas City in the 1992 NFL draft. COURTESY TENNESSEE ATHLETICS

It's not often that you see legacy players whose dads were not only teammates but first-round NFL draft picks. Kelly Sr. was a defensive end, Carter a cornerback. That fact is not lost on Kelly Jr., a junior who has six career interceptions in five starts.

"I talked a little to my dad about (Carter) and he just told me what a freak athlete he was on the field," Kelly Jr. said. "I asked him who was better, (Carter) or Eric Berry. He said it was hard to describe because both were great athletes and had similar game-playing styles.

"He said Nigel kind of reminded him of Dale in body shape and form – and facial features, as well."

Kelly Jr. describes Warrior, a four-star true freshman who was a national top-60 prospect, as an "incredible athlete."

Kelly Jr. has been mentoring Warrior to help him learn the safety position in Tennessee's scheme, and Kelly Jr. said he's watched plenty of film on Carter.

"I try to watch all the legacy Tennessee defensive backs who had a big say in the Tennessee program," Kelly Jr. said. "He's definitely one of them. He was a playmaker. A lot of people don't know he was the (AFC defensive) Rookie of the Year. He was a baller.

"I'd like to meet Mr. Carter to talk to him about Nigel and learn more about him."

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(You can follow Jimmy Hyams on Twitter @JimmyHyams)

© 2016, Jimmy Hyams. All rights reserved.

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