Former Eagle High quarterback Taylor Kelly probably will have a little extra bounce in his step Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Kelly has missed the past three games for No. 14 Arizona State with a foot injury. He is expected to return, and start, this week against Washington (8:45 p.m., ESPN).
There are two elements of intrigue surrounding his return.
First, there has been a mild controversy among Arizona State fans about whether Kelly should be starting. The Sun Devils were blown out by UCLA (62-27) in their first game without Kelly but since have beaten USC (38-34) and Stanford (26-10).
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They were 3-0 with Kelly, who passed for six touchdowns without an interception and rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw 28 touchdown passes and ran for nine more scores last year.
"This is Taylor's football team," Arizona State coach Todd Graham told the Arizona media. "He's earned that.
" I'm not a head coach that's going to change quarterbacks up very often, especially one I've won 22 games with. If he's ready to go, which I think he will be, he'll go. That doesn't mean Mike (Bercovici) won't play. We're not the same team we were before Taylor got hurt. I think we're better because of how Mike has developed."
Said Kelly, according to the Arizona Republic: “I’m 100 percent. I’m out there moving really well, back to full speed.”
This also is Kelly’s chance to play against former Boise State coach Chris Petersen.
Petersen and current Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin recruited Kelly out of high school but chose Grant Hedrick — the Broncos’ current starter — over him as their quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class.
Kelly committed to Nevada and flipped to Arizona State late in the process. Toward the end of his senior season, Boise State offered him a scholarship, but it was too late.
“I was getting recruited heavily by them,” Kelly told me in 2012. “I wanted to go there and stay home, but things didn't work out and I had to move on from that.
“It motivated me a lot. Just kind of getting that 'no,' it made me work harder and just have that chip on my shoulder. Being a competitor, I just kind of wanted to work hard and just prove them wrong.”
Petersen gave an uncomfortable-sounding answer when asked by reporters in Seattle if he recruited Kelly.
“We did,” he said. “We were in on the Taylor Kelly sweepstakes at one time and all those things. Recruiting happens so early and it’s hard to commitments here and there. I know Taylor.”
He also said: “He’s from my neck of the woods. I know what kind of competitor, what kind of quarterback, he is. I think he’s one of the really good ones.”
The Seattle Times followed up with offensive line coach Chris Strausser, a former Boise State assistant.
“Bryan Harsin was the quarterback coach and for whatever reason he felt like Grant was the better fit for what he was looking for,” Strausser said. “So that’s the direction we went, and Grant’s done some really good things over there in Boise as well.”
Added Strausser: “Whether (Kelly) is one of those guys who has a chip on his shoulder, I don’t know. But if he did, he’s proven a lot of people wrong.”
Just for fun, here are the stats of Hedrick and Kelly since the beginning of 2013 (not a fair comparison, really, because of different opponents, supporting casts and offenses):
Hedrick: 333-for-473, 24 TDs, 15 ints., 3,656 yards, 70.4 completion percentage, 145.73 efficiency rating, 537 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs.
Kelly: 344-for-552, 34 TDs, 12 ints., 4,260 yards, 62.3 completion percentage, 143.12 efficiency rating, 776 rushing yards, 11 TDs.
As it turns out, their numbers are quite similar.
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