Oklahoma LB Caleb Kelly Wants One More Shot at Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez

As teammates in Fresno, CA, OU's senior defensive star only got one chance to hit his supremely talented quarterback in practice.
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Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Kelly is looking forward to catching up with Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez.

And when it comes to seeing his old high school quarterback again, he might want to do just a little more than see him.

“Yeah I had one play in practice and I had hit him too hard,” Kelly revealed on Wednesday, “so they never let me go again. We had one play in practice where I got to go against him.”

Kelly (recruiting class of 2016) is two classes ahead of Martinez (2018). They were together for essentially one season at Clovis West High School in Fresno, CA.

“I think we had like 12 touchdowns together because I used to play offense,” Kelly said. “So he was like, my quarterback. He threw me the ball and we played together and everything my senior year.”

The Sooners and Cornhuskers renew an ancient rivalry on Saturday morning in Norman. OU is a 22-point favorite, according to SI Sportsbook. Martinez is a junior and three-year starter and one of the most prolific players in Huskers history, Kelly is a sixth-year senior and former 5-star prospect coming off back-to-back injuries.

Martinez is the fifth player in Big Ten history to surpass 6,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in a career. Last week against Buffalo, he had a 71-yard run and two 68-yard passes. He averaged 295 yards per game total offense in 2018 as a true freshman, which ranked 12th in the nation and is Nebraska’s all-time career leader at 270.6 yards per game total offense.

Adrian Martinez

Adrian Martinez

“I know him really well,” Kelly said. “He’s a crazy athlete, so it’s going to be really cool to go up against somebody who can do both, throw and run the ball. There have been so many plays he’s had this year already that are long, long touchdown runs, 70-yard, 80-yard runs. You can see how dangerous he is running the ball.”

Back in high school, two years after Kelly signed with the Sooners, Martinez missed his senior season because of a shoulder injury he suffered playing basketball.

“He’s always been that athlete,” Kelly said. “Like, he was the starting point guard at basketball.”

Martinez was so good, Kelly actually knew about him well before they became teammates.

Caleb Kelly (left)

Caleb Kelly (left)

“I helped coach his team when I was a freshman in high school,” Kelly said. “I would go back and help coach them my freshman and sophomore year when they were in seventh and eighth grade. Like, I've seen this kid grow up. And so, I mean, he's been this way his whole life. He's always been the quarterback. He's always been one of the star players. He's always the one that everybody knows in his grade and talks about.

“I'm not surprised in the success he's having, just because I've seen it happen in high school. I’ve seen it happen on my team. He was my quarterback. I mean, he beat out a guy who was a two-year starter. So I mean, I've seen him already do it all before and so I'm not surprised at all. He's a freak. He's a freak athlete is what he is.”

Players on both sides are being educated about the importance of the OU-Nebraska rivalry.

“It means a significant amount to the fans and to us as players to be a part of this rivalry,” Martinez said this week. “It’s the stuff I grew up wanting to be a part of. Simple as that. I’m from California and I knew about the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry. It’s big and I’m excited to finally be a part of it.”

Kelly said he and Martinez bumped into each other at the beach back in May. They didn’t go too deep into Saturday’s game.

“I was talking to him about it,” Kelly said. “He was like, kind of not trying to talk about it, I don't think. But I was looking forward to it so I was messing with him a little bit.”

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