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Academics and strong character pays off UA’s Ryan Kelly

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Alabama center Ryan Kelly has excelled on the field this season, blocking for two 100-yard rushing performances and 10 touchdowns. He has been penciled in for multiple awards, including the Remington Trophy but there is another thing that drives Kelly to be successful.

The fifth-year center and Ohio native takes great pride in his academics. Kelly became one of 56 semifinalist named for the William V. Campbell Trophy. The list was announced Wednesday by the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame. Players that are nominated for this award must have a 3.2 grade point average (4.0 scale), outstanding football abilities as a starter or contributor and demonstrate strong leadership or citizenship qualities.

Kelly’s determination in the classroom is exceptional.

He graduated in the summer of 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is now in classes to pursue a master’s degree in the same field. Kelly is scheduled to graduate this December. He currently holds a GPA of 3.75, after finishing his undergraduate studies with a 3.298 cumulative mark. Kelly was named to the SEC’s Fall Academic Honor Roll three times, while earning SEC Freshman Honor Roll and Dean’s List recognition during the 2013 term.

Kelly’s ambitions go far beyond the gridiron. He has become a staple in the Tuscaloosa community as well as back home in West Chester, Ohio. He regularly visits elementary schools, hospitals and lends a hand to Habitat for Humanity. Kelly was one of multiple Alabama players to help citizens in the aftermath of the April 2011 tornado.

The NFF will narrow the list down to 15 finalist on Oct. 29. Those individuals will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments. The winner of the 26th William V. Campbell Trophy will be announced on Dec. 8 at New York City, during the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.

You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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