- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

The hard-luck career of Chris Kelley finally may have taken a positive turn.
The oft-injured Maryland quarterback will participate in the Terrapins' first full-squad practice on Saturday despite having major surgery on his right knee 12 weeks ago today. Kelley could play in the season opener against Notre Dame in just over three weeks.
The redshirt sophomore from Seneca Valley High School was expected to begin the season as the starter before he tore the ACL in the first quarter of Maryland's spring game, leaving questions whether he would return at all this season.
By strictly adhering to his rehabilitation program, Kelley was cleared by doctors well ahead of expectations.
"I was really thinking maybe end of October at best that he would have a shot at coming back," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who admits he was surprised by the news even though he knew how well Kelley was progressing. "We'll just have to see. I'm happy for Chris because of how hard he's worked, but I'm just going to wait and see what he does on the field."
Kelley was not available to comment. The 6-foot-2 quarterback was expected to miss four to six months, but successful surgery followed by rigorous rehabilitation appear to have sped up the process.
"I have watched him run," Friedgen said. "It is pretty amazing."
Dr. Leigh Ann Curl, who performed the operation, cleared Kelley on Monday. She determined he is ready to start working back into football activities with no limitations. Dr. Steve Smith, the supervising physical at MOST, a rehab center in Silver Spring where the quarterback trained, agreed with the decision.
"This is the next step for him," said Maryland trainer Sandy Worth, who will closely monitor Kelley. "He's ready to go. Everything says go. His knee is stable. He hasn't had any pain with what he's been doing."
Kelley will report along with rest of the team tomorrow in preparation for two-a-day practices that begin the next morning. He will compete with West Virginia transfer Scott McBrien and junior college transfer Orlando Evans for the starting spot in the Aug.31 opener at the Kickoff Classic in Giants Stadium.
"We'll just have to see where he is," said Friedgen, who plans to determine early in the preseason whether Kelley may be available against the Irish. "I know this: Just having Chris on the team with what he's done has got to give our players something to lean on. It shows the heart and courage of the young man. I just don't want to put him in any jeopardy at all."
This was Kelley's third knee operation since wrapping up his All-American high school career. He missed his true freshman season at Maryland after tearing his left ACL in a high school all-star game the summer after he graduated high school. He re-injured the same knee in a beach accident last summer and again required surgery. He did return late in the season, but played only mop-up duty in blowouts over Duke and Troy State.
Kelley's most recent surgery came on May8. He immediately began extensive rehab, including exercising on an underwater treadmill, a trampoline and a balance beam. He has been participating in summer football drills with the team, although with limited agility and lateral movement. The quarterback will continue with strength and agility training as he prepares for the season.
"When he got hurt, he was devastated," Worth said. "There was a lot of sad people that day. In talking with him a couple days later when he came in to see us, he said, 'I want to get the surgery. I want to get better. I want to play.' Attitude does make all the difference in the world. He not only has the attitude, he has the work ethic and he has followed right along with everything he said he was going to do."
The Terps are cautiously optimistic he will be able to play early in the season. It would be quite an achievement after he was essentially written off after his latest injury. Now, there is hope that Kelley's hard-luck career may finally get a break of a positive nature.
"I don't know if I'm going to let him go through everything," Friedgen said "What I think I have to do is go slow with him. If I see the leg is tired, I will pull him out."

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