The best football player in crimson this autumn will be the player who was the best in crimson last autumn. But will Malcolm Kelly get the chance to show it?
No, I didn't forget about Adrian Peterson, now about to go ashore for the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson is an all-time great; he ran like his shoulder pads were on fire. Ran through defenders the way Secretariat ran through dust.
But Peterson's collarbone snapped against Iowa State, halfway through 2007. Kelly was a force the entire year.
He's big, he's strong, he's fast and he has great hands. Wild prediction: Kelly will go higher in the 2008 NFL draft than Peterson went in the 2007 draft, though most of the mock drafts don't yet list Kelly, since he'll be just a junior this season. If Kelly turns pro and slips past seventh overall in the draft, some lucky team has a steal.
Kelly was nothing short of spectacular in 2006, making acrobatic and clutch catches. His 6-foot-4 height puts him above defenders, and once in the air, Kelly retains his ability, which is no small thing. A lot of guys look like NBA small forwards with both feet on the ground; once airborne, they become mere mortals.
Truth is, Kelly made steady Paul Thompson look a lot better than he really was as a quarterback.
Thompson would float a pass in the general direction of the opposing secondary, and Kelly would twist and turn and clutch the pigskin like it was a life raft going over the Lake Texoma spillway.
But in all likelihood, Thompson was a far cry above what OU likely will use at quarterback this season.