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Charles Kelly

Charles Kelly

  • Defensive Coordinator, Defensive Backs Coach
  • Hometown: Ozark, Alabama
  • Alma Mater: Auburn Tigers
  • Florida State Seminoles
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Charles Kelly is in his seventh season at Georgia Tech, his fifth season under head coach Paul Johnson and his third season as coach of the secondary. He was promoted to interim defensive coordinator at Tech on Oct. 8, 2012, after the firing of former defensive coordinator Al Groh.

Kelly took over responsibility for the secondary in 2010 after coaching the cornerbacks in 2008 and 2009.

Over the last four seasons, Georgia Tech has recorded 52 interceptions. In 2008, the Yellow Jackets recorded 18 INTs, including three by true freshman cornerback Rashaad Reid, who was a second team Freshmen All-American.

In 2008, Tech ranked in the top 30 nationally in total defense and scoring defense. In 2009, Kelly helped develop a number of cornerbacks including Mario Butler, a 14-game starter, and Jerrard Tarrant, who picked off two passes, including one for a touchdown in the FedEx Orange Bowl. Tarrant was responsible for all four of Tech's non-offensive touchdowns in 2009.

In 2010, Butler and Tarrant both returned interceptions for touchdowns. Butler and Tarrant were invited to the NFL Combine.

Last season Kelly inherited four new starters in the secondary and molded that youthful unit into a group that helped Georgia Tech rank second in the ACC and 28th nationally in pass defense. With just one senior among the starters, Tech recorded 14 interceptions in 2011, six more than the previous season.

Kelly, a former defensive coordinator at three different schools, served as the Yellow Jackets' special teams coordinator in 2006 and 2007. He was instrumental in making Georgia Tech into one of the nation's best special teams units in 2007. That group went from 119th in the nation in kick return defense in 2006 to second in 2007. Under Kelly's guidance, punter Durant Brooks and place-kicker Travis Bell each earned first team All-ACC accolades. Brooks earned the prestigious Ray Guy Award in 2007 and recorded the highest career punting average in ACC history.

In Kelly's first year in 2006, Brooks earned second-team All-America and first-team All-ACC honors. With the combination of Brooks and outstanding coverage, Tech ranked second in the nation in net punting. Brooks averaged better than 45 yards per punt, and almost half of his kicks pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line. Kelly spent the previous four seasons at Nicholls State, an NCAA Division I-AA program that captured the Southland Conference title in 2005.

Under Kelly, who served as defensive backs coach during his first two seasons at Nicholls, the Colonels finished as the top-ranked defense in the Southland Conference in 2005 and 17th in NCAA Division I-AA. Nicholls led the Southland in total defense and rushing defense, while ranking second in scoring defense.

Kelly was instrumental in developing two-time All-America cornerback Chris Thompson, who was drafted in 2004 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kelly went to Nicholls State in 2002 from Eufaula (Ala.) High School, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two seasons. Prior to his move to the high school ranks, the Ozark, Ala., native spent one season (1999) as defensive coordinator at Henderson State and two seasons as defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State. His term as defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State culminated a five-year stay on the JSU staff (1994-98), and he also coordinated the offense and coached the defensive backs, running backs, quarterbacks and receivers over the course of his stay.

Before going to Jacksonville State, Kelly served one year as a graduate assistant at Auburn and was part of the Tigers' 11-0 season in 1993. He spent three seasons as an assistant football coach and baseball coach at Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. (1990-92).

Kelly has coached eight players that have made it to the National Football League, including Brooks, Thompson, Delvin Hugley, Calvin Jackson, Chris Schelling, Dell McGee and most recently, Jahi Word-Daniels and Mario Butler.

A 1990 graduate of Auburn with a degree in secondary math education, Kelly played defensive back under former Tiger coach Pat Dye. His senior class put together a four-year record of 39-7-2 while participating in four bowl games. In 2002, Kelly earned a master's degree in education from Troy State.

Kelly and his wife, Kristy, have three daughters, Caroline, Kathleen and Charli Grace.


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