Prior to Sunday’s week three home game, the San Diego Fleet announced that they would be reassigning wide receiver Kameron Kelly to defensive back.
The former San Diego State Aztec welcomed the change after playing four successful seasons in college registering 168 tackles and 10 interceptions.
“I just want to do whatever I can to help the team,” Kelly said. “I was excited. It’s not like I had to go in there and learn something new I just went back in to do what I always do.”
The Fleet (2-1) topped the San Antonio Commanders (1-2) 31-11, avenging a week one loss and moving to the top of the Western Conference.
In the game two weeks ago, Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside threw for 255 yards but was held to just 151 Sunday. Kelly made an impact in the second half while assigned to San Antonio’s Mekale McKay, who caught three passes for 69 yards including a 47-yard touchdown in the first half. McKay was limited to one catch in the second half and Kelly broke up a pass in the endzone that would have resulted in the Commander receiver’s second touchdown of the game. He also picked up two tackles, helping the Fleet defense hold the visitors to just one field goal in the third quarter and a scoreless fourth.
“It wasn’t too hard,” Kelly said about the transition. “It’s about training my mind to revert back what I used to do. Keeping myself calm. People mess themselves up trying to do too much.”
Outside of the box score, he brought relentless energy that could be noticed on every play. If he wasn’t hyping the rest of the Fleet defense pre-snap, he was encouraging the San Diego faithful to make more noise. Defensive backs coach Eric Allen noticed the intensified effort with Kelly on the field.
“He takes ownership in that energy,” Allen said. “It’s really important for him to be leader and you can see that in between plays. His energy level is just so high and I’d like to see that continue.”
Kelly signed with the Dallas Cowboys after going undrafted in 2018 and played in four preseason games but was cut before the start of the regular season. He went on to sign with the Fleet in October with the original plan to utilize his elite athleticism on offense at wide receiver. After two games, Kelly caught three passes for 22 yards. He also picked up knowledge that he can use against other receivers during weeks practicing at the position.
“The time he spent as a receiver helped his progress as a defensive back,” Allen said. “Spatial awareness, route recognition, all of those things are so important to all defensive backs but you generally don’t get that until you’re in the (NFL) for seven or eight years.
“He’s all of a sudden at practice calling out routes and understanding the depth of a route. Those things, for a corner, in particular, are so vital.”
Kelly is confident in himself and the role change, with goals to not only help the team but make an impact on the entire league. He played safety for the majority of his career at SDSU but intrigued many NFL scouts when he began focusing on becoming a corner in his senior year. His athleticism, length and balls skills project success at the position.
“Hopefully I can be the best corner in the league,” Kelly said. “That’s the only goal I have right now.”
Allen shares similar confidence in his pupil who will vie for another shot at playing in the NFL. The opportunity for Kelly to grow at corner while playing in the AAF should suit him in that pursuit.
“If he can continue to put good stuff on film, then hopefully he becomes one of the guys we talk about next year because he’s playing on Sundays [in the NFL],” Allen said.