It’s about damn time! True freshman transfer Cam’Ron Kelly received his eligibility decision from the NCAA on Wednesday afternoon, a mere 72 hours before kickoff of the Tar Heels 2019 season opener. The NCAA determined that Kelly will be eligible for the 2019 season, including the game this Saturday, which he is expected to play in.
The 2019 4✮ CB transferred to Carolina back in April shortly following a family illness. Kelly originally signed with Auburn as part of the early signing period, but the move back to Chapel Hill allowed him to be just under 200 miles away from home and closer to his family.
As a senior at Tidewater-area powerhouse Oscar L. Smith High School, Kelly accumulated 1,966 total yards and 38 total touchdowns while playing both quarterback and cornerback. Prior to his junior season, Kelly split his time between wide receiver and cornerback in each of his prior two seasons. As a sophomore, Kelly caught 48 passes for 753 yards and five touchdowns, while finishing with 35 total tackles, 13 passes defended and eight interceptions.
Kelly’s eligibility is a big deal for the Tar Heels in a few different ways. For one, Kelly adds another body to a secondary that is thin everywhere you look. The better news for the Tar Heels here is that Kelly has the ability to play anywhere in the secondary. He has the 1-on-1 coverage skills to play corner and the range and closing speed to play safety. His tackling and run-stopping abilities also make him a great fit at the nickelback position, the spot where it feels like he would be most likely to contribute this season, something that Inside Carolina‘s Taylor Vippolis predicted earlier this summer. Kelly has been one of the most impressive members of the secondary during training camp, meaning the Tar Heels will have one of their most talented players available to play. Kelly eligibility is a huge plus for the first half against South Carolina, where starting corner Patrice Rene will be unavailable due to a suspension stemming from the altercation at the end of the game in last year’s season finale against NC State. The question for the Heels is how quickly can Kelly adjust after he was a part of the scout team throughout this week when the team was doing install for Saturday’s game against South Carolina? It certainly won’t be easy, but he has the pure talent to hold his own for a few plays if he is needed.
This is a huge boost for the Tar Heel secondary and Kelly has the chance to be a significant contributor to the Tar Heels 2019 roster. The delay on Kelly’s decision, though, is ridiculous and unnecessary and shows one of the biggest issues with the transfer portal. To get cleared just three days before the season opener is ridiculous. The saddest part is, Kelly’s situation isn’t even the worst example of the NCAA’s eligibility issues. Even though it might benefit the Tar Heels to not have to see Virginia Tech transfer center Brock Huffman, the handling of his case is simply despicable and cruel. This situation has led to the criticism of some of the NCAA’s recent decisions, including Kelly’s, a situation that, according to the NCAA’s waiver rules, should qualify for immediate eligibility. The solution should not be for other fanbases to take it out on the opposing players who are cleared. The anger needs to be aimed directly at the NCAA. It’s really this simple NCAA: BE BETTER!!