In honor of the 16th annual Houston Texans Senior Showcase fueled by Gatorade, Eric Kelly, former Senior Showcase participant and current offensive coordinator at Friends University, looks back on his experience at the event and how it helped lead him to where he is today.
I remember walking on to the field at the Houston Methodist Training Center as a senior at Cypress Ranch High School for the Senior Showcase in 2011. As an unsigned player, it was extremely intimidating because this was the biggest camp I had ever been to, with 300 or 400 other guys. Looking back, I remember that after my 5-10-5 shuttle drill Coach Edwards from Harding University pulled me aside and told me I timed really well. He asked me to run another one for him and his staff, and they said they would be watching me the rest of the day. I completed the competition phase and at the end of the day, Coach Edwards invited me out to Harding for an official visit. I was in constant communication with him and his team until I arrived on campus. After the full experience, I signed my scholarship and the rest is history.
My time as a running back on the football team at Harding was awesome. After I graduated in 2016, I started by career in marketing and sales at a performance gym until Coach Harrison, the head coach at Friends University, called. When I was in high school, my coach gave me great advice. He told me that if coaching is for you, you leave it and if you can't live without it, it will come back to you. He was right. Coaching came back to me.
Now, when I step on to the field at the Senior Showcase as the offensive coordinator at Friends University, it's a full circle moment. I know exactly how the guys feel, how hungry they are for their opportunity. While some coaches may look for a guy to be a certain height or weight, my mindset is "if you can ball, you can ball." I get to connect with the players on a different level and it's what keeps me coming back. One of the players I recruited five years ago, Trey Palmer, didn't get a lot of playing time in high school, but when I saw him at the Senior Showcase, I was immediately drawn to his grateful spirit and undeniable athleticism. I'm proud to say he's currently a four-time All American at Friends and hopefully headed to the NFL.
The Texans Senior Showcase was a pivotal moment in my life. If I didn't have the opportunity to meet the coaches who helped shape me into the man and coach I am today, I wouldn't have found my family, my people. I just needed a shot and thanks to the showcase, I was able to take advantage of it.