|Born||June 25, 1969|
Hot Springs, Arkansas, US
|Alma mater||Henderson State University (B.S.)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1993–1997||Carrollton ISD (TX) (7HC/Scout)|
|1997–2002||Pulaski Academy (AR) (OC)|
|2003–2020||Pulaski Academy (AR)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|9 AAA State (2003, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020)|
Kevin Kelley (born June 25, 1969) is an American football coach currently serving as the head coach at Presbyterian College. Prior to his hiring at Presbyterian, Kelley was most recently the head football coach and athletic director at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he won nine AAA state championships and employed a unique strategy that involved rarely punting and almost always attempting onside kicks and two-point conversions.
Originally a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, Kelley attended Glenwood High School in Glenwood, Arkansas, which has since consolidated with a nearby school to become Centerpoint High School. Kelley then attended Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1992. He was the first member of his family to graduate from college.
Kelley began his coaching career at the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District in Carrollton, Texas. From 1993 to 1997, in addition to teaching earth science, he served as the head coach of one of the district's 7th-grade teams while also serving as a scout for one of the senior high teams.
From 2003 to 2020, Kelley served as the head football coach at Pulaski Academy. He has gained notoriety for his unique numbers-based coaching strategy, which involves rarely punting and almost always attempting fourth down conversions ("going for it"), onside kicks (unless his team is leading by 21 points or more), and two-point conversions. Kelley's teams were consistently competitive; the Bruins won nine Arkansas Activities Association state championships under his direction, were named to the list of the top ten Arkansas football dynasties, at No. 5, by MaxPreps in 2011, and as the No. 1 most dominant Arkansas high school football program of the decade in 2020. Additionally, Kelley's offenses own each of the top 12 highest single-season yardage totals in Arkansas high school history.
Pulaski won their first title under Kelley in 2003, in his first season at the helm of the program, and subsequently won titles in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020; Pulaski's four consecutive titles from 2014 to 2017 made them only the fourth team in Arkansas high school history to do so, and the first since Barton High School from 1986 to 1989. Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Kelley was listed as having the 15th-highest all-time winning percentage among high school football coaches.
Kelley was named the USA Today High School Coach of the Year in 2016 and was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in April 2021. Bill Belichick said of Kelley in December 2020 that he was "...probably the top high school coach in the country," and mentioned that he "[had] great respect for coach Kelley". Kelley's strategy has been the subject of reports by The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, and Time, and was included in a chapter of Scorecasting, a book by Toby Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim.
In an interview shortly after he was hired by Presbyterian, Kelley told Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports that he was most proud of his offensive acumen, and noted that his play-calling style was as heavily data-driven as his more publicized special teams idiosyncrasies. Kelley considers his offensive philosophy "intermediate", which he defines as geared heavily toward midrange passes in front of the safeties, with a high percentage of pass plays designed to generate yards after the catch. According to Thamel,
The "intermediate" offense combines what Kelley considers the two hardest things to do in football — play pass coverages and tackle in space. He estimates that if a quarterback can throw 40 yards, that leaves seven men guarding an area that's 52 yards wide and 40 yards deep. "That's 2,000 square yards that seven guys have to defend," he said. "That's almost 30-yard squares. You know how hard it is?"
Following the conclusion of the 2020 season, there were some ideas that led to speculation that Kelley could be considered for a Division I job, namely the head coaching position at Kansas, a job Kelley supposedly said he would accept for $90,000 per win. Ultimately, Kelley was hired as the 16th head football coach at Presbyterian College on May 6, 2021. He will take over the Blue Hose program for their first full season in the Pioneer Football League after a shortened 2021 spring season under Tommy Spangler.
Kelley is married to his wife, Dana, with whom he has two children.
|Pulaski Academy Bruins (AAA) (2002–2020)|
|2003||Pulaski Academy||13–2||6–1||2nd||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAA State Championship Game|
|2004||Pulaski Academy||10–3||7–0||1st||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAA State Quarterfinals|
|2005||Pulaski Academy||11–3||6–1||2nd||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAA State Semifinals|
|2006||Pulaski Academy||12–2||6–1||2nd||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2007||Pulaski Academy||9–2–1||7–0||1st||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Quarterfinals|
|2008||Pulaski Academy||13–1||7–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2009||Pulaski Academy||9–4||5–2||3rd||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Semifinal|
|2010||Pulaski Academy||13–2||7–0||1st||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAA State Championship Game|
|2011||Pulaski Academy||15–0||7–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAA State Championship Game|
|2012||Pulaski Academy||10–3||7–0||1st||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Semifinals|
|2013||Pulaski Academy||11–2||7–0||1st||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Quarterfinals|
|2014||Pulaski Academy||13–1||7–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2015||Pulaski Academy||14–0||6–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2016||Pulaski Academy||13–1||7–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2017||Pulaski Academy||14–0||7–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2018||Pulaski Academy||12–2||7–0||1st||L Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2019||Pulaski Academy||12–2||6–1||2nd||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|2020||Pulaski Academy||13–0||5–0||1st||W Arkansas Activities Association Class AAAAA State Championship Game|
|Presbyterian Blue Hose (Pioneer Football League) (2021–present)|