WNY Athletics

Casey Carries on the Kelly Name

Casey Kelly learned very early on in life that carrying the surname of “Kelly” carries a lot of pride in WNY. He also learned that it comes with a great deal of expectations. But along the way Casey Kelly learned the most valuable lesson of them all-just be yourself.

“I’ve just learned to not try to be someone that I’m not,” Casey Kelly said.

“I always try to be the best Casey I can be. Not try to be anybody else. Be the best that you can be.”

In his first season as the starting quarterback of the St.Joe’s Marauders varsity football team, Kelly, a sophomore, has been doing his best to make his own name on the gridiron. Not exactly the easiest thing to do in WNY when you consider he is the nephew of former Buffalo Bill great and NFL Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly, and younger brother of former St.Joe’s star QB Chad Kelly, who now plays for Ole Miss.

The youngest son of Kevin and Charlene Kelly, young Casey knows full well that when you walk onto a football field in WNY some people will instantly like or dislike you simply because of your sir name.

“It brings a lot of good, but also it brings some bad, with the last name,” Casey explained. “It carries a stigma (with it) the last name. You have to be perfect, but ya know, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.”

A three-sport athlete, Casey plays basketball and is one of the most promising talents in the Marauders lacrosse program. While following an accomplished sibling is always a challenge, Casey Kelly often finds opposing players trying to get under his skin by taking verbal jabs at Chad.

“It definitely makes you play harder, and it makes me think OK I’ll do this for him,” Casey said. “I’ll score this goal for (Chad) and shut that guy up.”

Very tight with his older brother, Casey looks at Chad’s on field accomplishments-like helping St.Joe’s win states during his junior season, as well as the experts who predict that Chad will be a top pick in the next NFL draft. But Casey doesn’t turn a blind eye to the off negative off field situations and run-ins with the law that Chad has experienced.

While the ups and downs of Chad Kelly’s life have taught Casey about the importance of making the right choices, it’s also taught Casey the importance of compassion. About showing forgiveness when those around you, especially people you love, make mistakes.

“You know what, I love him. He’s my brother,” Casey Kelly said. “You learn from his mistakes, as I’ve said. He tells you when he’s messed up and he doesn’t want (me) to do it at all. He wants (me) to be great. He wants (me) to be a great person in general. He’s a great guy.”

Not just viewing Chad through the eyes of an adoring younger brother, Casey is a mature, level headed young man, who can think for himself. While others may judge Chad simply based on the negatives, Casey looks deeper. In his brother he sees a funny, supportive, good hearted person that most people haven’t taken the time to see.

“Definitely, people have a bad perception of him,” Casey said. “People just like to read the bad things that happen, unfortunately, but there’s a ton a good. If you just talk to him he’s a great guy. He’s funny. He has a great personality. He’s always smiling.”

Casey said that while following Chad as a Marauder comes with the expectations of living up to what Chad did on the field, it’s also been a huge benefit. Having been around the St.Joe’s campus since fifth grade Casey said he didn’t really experience those normal first day of school jitters when came in as a freshman. It felt right. It felt like home.

But on the football field, Kelly or not, nothing was handed to Casey. Even though most observers would say he was the perfect fit to take over as varsity QB, Casey still had to beat out Trey Boling to officially win the job.

“Nothing is handed to you,” Casey said. “You always have to work to get everything. Definitely having Trey work with me and compete for the job definitely pushed me to be better than I would be if I was just handed the job.”

Like any varsity rookie, Casey has experienced some growing pains. But Marauders first-year head coach Derek Landri said that Casey commands respect on the field. Not because of his last name, but because of how he carries himself as a teammate and a leader.

“How he understands the game. How his teammates respect him and how he commands that respect,” Landri said. “I’ve played with a lot of different quarterbacks and they’re always supposed to be leaders just because they’re the quarterback, but not all of them command your respect and not everybody respects all those quarterbacks, but he does. They guys love him and they play for him.”

Signs of Casey’s growth were seen in his performance this past Saturday in the Marauders 18-14 win over defending Monsignor Martin Athletic Association playoff champion St. Francis. Kelly passed for 162 yards, rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns. He also showed everyone that he can be the kind of field general St.Joe’s needs.

Driven to break all of Chad’s records at St.Joe’s, Casey isn’t sure exactly how many of his brother’s records he can break, but he is sure of one thing.

“I think I’m a little funnier than he is,” Casey said with a smile.

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