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OSU Target Aden Kelley Juggling Farming and High-Profile Recruitment

A discussion with one of OSU’s biggest targets in the 2021 class.



It’s 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, and Aden Kelley has already had himself a morning.

He’s scrambling around for breakfast. He’s trying to dry his jeans, which were still damp after a run in the cycle (that somehow got stuck in a blanket). And in between it all, he’s got an interview with me — and he’s running late. He has to knock it out and get to the swather by 7:30 while downing a quick bite to eat and drying the jeans.

The Thomas-Fay-Custer defensive tackle is hardly a normal teenager, but this is mostly a normal morning for him as he gears up for a long day.

“I don’t know that there’s many who spend their days like this in quarantine,” he quips, deflecting my (admittedly bad) attempt to land a joke about millennials and how they spend time in a pandemic. “But that’s how I do it.”

Kelley spent Wednesday on the swather, a farm machine that cuts hay or crops and forms them into windrows. But that’s just a portion of his farming skills. Tuesday he spent his day hauling cattle in the morning for his uncle and his grandmother. The day before he hauled hay.

But between it all, Kelley is working not just on the farm, but on his game, which is drawing attention from across the country. Now a four-star recruit, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, TCU, Nebraska and a host of other programs are hard after him after he’s quickly emerged from a little-known, small-town recruit to nationally relevant.

“I didn’t work out Tuesday,” he says. “I came home, and I’m telling ya, I was going to work out then I came home and fell asleep. But I’ve been going three days a week. I’m working with my trainer to get a plan since harvest is about to start, just getting workouts away from his gym so we can adjust.”

Kelley tells me he’s ready for the recruiting process to meet its end. Been ready. He’s been narrowing down his schools the last couple weeks, and he’s down to a handful. Two or three. He’s trying to move forward and make his decision. In fact, he’s tried to make a decision these last few weeks.

“I wanted to commit two weeks ago, but here we are,” he said. “Making a decision has been going about like how my morning went.”

Kelley may commit today. Or maybe he’ll commit in a week, in a month, or in 2031. All he knows is that he’s ready to make a decision and continue his ascent.

“Just something less to worry about,” he says about the day he plans to commit. “I’ll feel so much better when I get this off my chest.”

Oklahoma State seems to be in a great position with Kelley. They were one of his first offers earlier this year, before he became this Aden Kelley — the one that’s garnered offers from across the country. Since then Mike Gundy’s been after him, and the defensive staff has made a concerted effort to prioritize him.

“Oklahoma State is definitely on the list,” he said. “I’m down to two, three schools. I’ve been in contact with a lot of the coaches from Oklahoma State, from Gundy to Coach Vic, Coach Richmond, Coach Clements. They’ve all been really good.”

OSU’s pitch throughout to Kelley has been a simple one.

“Stay home and make an impact here in your own state,” he says of what OSU is trying to sell him on. “That’s the big thing they’ve pointed out, the big thing that’s made sense to me. To stay home and do something special.”

That message resonates with Kelley. As an Oklahoma native he knows he can be a huge recruit for Oklahoma State. He knows he can be an impactful player down the road. And he knows he wouldn’t be alone in blazing a similar path, potentially following the footsteps of four-star recruit Collin Oliver, from Edmond Santa Fe, who committed just last week.

“He’s a heck of a player,” says Kelley, who took notice when Oliver picked the Pokes over a number of other high-major suitors.

“I saw he committed the other day, and I was kinda shocked honestly,” said Kelley. “I followed him on Twitter, he hit me up and said, ‘Hey man, make the move.’ That sparked a little something there. He’s a great player. Being another in-state kid, I know I have a chance to do something special.”

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