There was quite a bit I couldn’t cram into this morning’s dead-tree edition story about Matt Kelly.
Lacrosse fans know Kelly as a four-year starter on defense for Virginia. More importantly, he was one of the many former football players coach Dom Starsia targeted to keep the Cavaliers as athletic and physical as possible on the lacrosse field.
Kelly is almost a model for such a system. At about 6 feet and 220 pounds coming out of high school, he was a bit of a tweener to play college football at a high level. But it turned out he was a perfect fit on the lacrosse field.
Starsia could see the latter trait, and he recalled last week one of his first discussions with Kelly.
“I was surprised it wasn’t harder [to recruit him] because here’s a kid who grew up in the Midwest, in Big Ten football country,” Starsia said. “Lacrosse was really a new sport for him. I’d only seen him play for five minutes in the summer before his senior year. I said ‘Tell me to go jump in a lake if I’m late on this, but I’d love to talk to you about playing lacrosse at Virginia. He said ‘I was hoping you would call.’”
Kelly also hoped to eventually play football, a chance that comes this fall as a walk-on in Charlottesville. Kelly preferred the opportunity to stay at Virginia and play on special teams above heading elsewhere and trying to find a more prominent role.
That could also create some enjoyable moments this fall for Starsia, who played football as well as lacrosse at Brown in the 1970s.
“It’s a thrill when one of our guys is out there,” Starsia said. “When Patrick Kerney was here, we lost him as a player, but it was such a thrill for all of us because we could say ‘Hey, there’s one of ours.’ It’ll be fun as hell. If he’s in, I’ll be watching one guy. I don’t care what else is happening, my eyes will be glued to Matt Kelly if he’s chasing the ball.”
—- Patrick Stevens