Special Week Highlights Harriton Senior's Football Past, Future
Rams' star tight end Ryan Kelly committed to Penn and will be a Maxwell Club award winner.
There can't be many people Harriton senior Ryan Kelly would want to trade places with this week. On Thursday, he’s going to be honored by the Maxwell Football Club as one of the top high school football players in Pennsylvania. And to kick off this week, Kelly made a life-changing choice.
Harriton’s All-Central League first-team 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound tight end made a commitment to the University of Pennsylvania to play football. Since Ivy League schools don’t allow sports scholarships, Kelly will attend Penn on a grant-in-aid package based on need.
Kelly chose Penn over a number of Ivy League schools like Brown, Princeton, Dartmouth and Cornell. Kelly also considered Lehigh, Davidson, Bucknell, Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon.
Kelly scored a 33 out of 36 on the ACT, carries a 4.48 GPA on a weighted scale, wants to major in business and has been accepted by the Wharton Business School. Kelly told Penn coach Al Bagnoli his intentions after an official visit this past weekend.
“It’s been a huge honor and huge relief, and it’s good to see the hard work pay off,” Kelly said. “To be honest, if you told me I’d be playing football at a Division I school, I would tell you you were crazy. I was fortunate that I had a lot of good people around me, my coaches, teachers, my parents. There were times this whole recruiting process was frustrating. The process is humbling, very, very humbling. It makes you realize how difficult things could be.”
Proximity was a big key in Kelly’s choice. He wanted to stay close to home, and Penn began taking notice of him the summer heading into his senior year. Kelly was also very persistent. He also made Bagnoli know Penn was his primary choice, if Bagnoli felt Kelly was a fit for the Quakers, who finished 4-3 behind Harvard in the Ivy League. But the Quakers won Ivy League titles in 2009 and again in 2010.
“In my meeting with Coach Bagnoli, he liked the way I ran my routes and my hands, and I have a good frame to build off of,” Kelly said. “Villanova has been on the schedule in the past, and there’s a chance to play them again. My grandfather was a trash man, and my family has gone from being a trash man to an Ivy Leaguer. When my father told me that, I never thought of things that way. It’s where the roots of hard work came from, first my grandfather and now my father, and now me. My mother’s father worked his way from Trenton, and by no means did he have it easy, to go on and get a Villanova degree.”
On Thursday night, Kelly will be one of 60 players from the area honored at the annual Maxwell Club Mini-Max dinner. It will end a very big week.
Kelly, a starter since his sophomore year, led all tight ends in Southeastern Pennsylvania in receptions with 40 this past season, for 571 yards and nine touchdowns. He leaves Harriton as the all-time leader in career receptions, touchdown receptions (19) and yards.
“It’s going to be tough to leave all of this behind when I graduate,” Kelly said. “The Harriton program gave me a lot. I can’t thank Coach (Matt) Barr enough. I owe my quarterback, Pat Moriarty, a lot of thanks, too. Pat could play anywhere in the country, and he made my job that much easier. He wasn’t afraid to throw me the ball. Coach Barr taught me about work ethic. He is serious about his football and he’s a competitor, and that rubs off on the players. You never want to let him down.”