Leodis McKelvin (CB)
One of the most electrifying return specialists in the game, Leodis McKelvin also developed into a standout cover cornerback during his time with the Trojans. Even though he touched the ball only twice on offense, he amassed a school all-time record 3,909 all-purpose yards, the third-best career total in Sun Belt Conference history.
His eight total kicks returned for touchdowns (seven punts, one kickoff) tied the NCAA Division 1-A record. His 211 total returned kicks (99 kickoffs/112 punts) topped the previous collegiate record of 203 by Deltha O'Neal of California (1996-99) and his 3,817 total kick return yards also established an NCAA record, surpassing O'Neal's old mark of 3,455 yards.
At Ware County High School, McKelvin earned first-team Class AAAA All-State honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia Sportswriters Association. As a senior, he was named Area Defensive Player of the Year, as well as to the Georgia Times Union Super 11 team. He participated in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Game after his final campaign.
McKelvin started at left cornerback, helping lead the team to a 9-2 record, a regional title and a second-round AAAA playoff appearance in 2003. That year, he recorded 51 tackles, recovered three fumbles, intercepted six passes and broke up six others. He also blocked two field-goal attempts. As a junior, he posted 60 tackles and six interceptions on defense and also had eight receptions for over 300 yards as a receiver. In addition to football, he was a member of the Ware County basketball team.
As a true freshman at Troy, McKelvin played in 12 games as a reserve cornerback, seeing most of his action on special teams and the defensive sub package. He posted 17 tackles (13 solos), returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown and broke up one pass. He ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference and 29th nationally with 26 punt returns for 304 yards (11.7-yard average) and a pair of scores. He also ranked second in the league with 15 kickoff returns for 328 yards (21.9 avg), gaining 703 all-purpose yards.
A finalist for the National Return Man of the Year Award, McKelvin was named second-team All-Sun Belt Conference as a return specialist in 2005. He appeared in 11 games as a reserve cornerback, collecting 30 tackles (26 solo) with a nine-yard sack and a fumble recovery. He deflected six passes and blocked one kick. He also led the conference and ranked 16th nationally with 33 punt returns for 417 yards (12.6-yard average) and a touchdown. He led the league with 619 yards and a score on 24 kickoff returns (25.8 avg), becoming the first player in school history to score on an interception, kickoff return and punt return in a career.
McKelvin was an All-American honorable mention and All-Sun Belt Conference choice as a return specialist in 2006. He scored once on 28 punt returns for 314 yards (11.2-yard average) and had 27 kickoff returns for 634 yards (23.5 avg). He started all 13 games at left cornerback, delivering 66 tackles (56 solo) with two quarterback pressures and a pair of forced fumbles. He also intercepted one pass and batted away seven others.
McKelvin earned All-American and All-Sun Belt Conference first-team honors as a senior. In 12 starts at left cornerback, he registered a career-high 60 tackles (50 solo) and 2.5 stops for minus-6 yards. He caused three fumbles and returned a fumble recovery 36 yards. He lost nine yards on two interceptions and broke up nine passes. He ranked fourth in the nation with 25 punt returns for 436 yards (17.4-yard average) and a conference record three touchdowns. He finished third in the league with 33 kickoff returns for 765 yards (23.2 avg), and led the Trojans with 1,228 all-purpose yards.
In 48 games at Troy, McKelvin started 25 times. He recorded 173 tackles (145 solo) with a nine-yard sack and 4.5 stops for losses of 18 yards. He caused five fumbles, recovering two others, including one that he advanced 36 yards. He deflected 22 passes and blocked a kick. He lost six yards on two carries, but gained 62 yards with a score on four interception returns. As a return specialist, he ran back 112 punts for 1,471 yards (13.1-yard average) and seven touchdowns. He also gained 2,346 yards with a score on 99 kickoff returns. He ranks third in Sun Belt annals with a school career-record 3,909 all-purpose yards.
Attended Ware County (Waycross, Ga.) High School, playing football for head coach Dan Ragle...Earned first-team Class AAAA All-State honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia Sportswriters Association...As a senior, he was named Area Defensive Player of the Year, as well as to the Georgia Times Union Super 11 team...Also participated in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Game after his final campaign...Started at left cornerback, helping lead the team to a 9-2 record, a regional title and a second-round AAAA playoff appearance in 2003...That year, he made 51 tackles, recovered three fumbles, intercepted six passes and broke up six others. He also blocked two field-goal attempts...As a junior, he registered 60 tackles and six interceptions on defense and also had eight receptions for 300 yards as a receiver...In addition to football, he was a member of the Ware County basketball team.
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Positives: Has a lean frame, but shows good muscle tone and the body to carry another 10 pounds without having the added weight impact his quickness...Not the most instinctive ball hawk you will find, but he has quick feet and good change-of-direction agility to close, once he locates the ball...Smooth open-field runner with the balance, body control and leaping ability to make plays on balls that are outside of his frame (must extend for the ball more often, though, as he will body catch)...Can take the plays from the chalkboard to the field with just a few reps...Plays with good confidence and he will not hesitate to combat for the jump balls or mix it up with receivers running through their patterns...Will get rag-dolled at the line of scrimmage in run support, but still shows willingness to plug the rush lanes (made 24 plays in run support as a senior)...Hard worker in practices and in the training room and is respected by the staff and his teammates, taking pride in his team captaincy...When he doesn't bail out of his backpedal too early, he generates good transition quickness and a burst to close coming out of his breaks...Needs to extend for the ball, but you can see that he has the timing and leaping ability to get to the pass at its high point...He will get high in his pedal and shuffle his feet at times, but comes out of his breaks with good balance...Not that strong, but is a pester type that will keep his hands active in attempts to reroute the receiver...When he plants and drives smoothly, he is capable of mirroring the receiver (will struggle to recover when he fails to open his hips)...Shows the willingness and toughness to quickly support vs. run and will throw his body around to get the ballcarrier on the ground (likes contact)...Sees routes develop adequately, but is better when he can sink under deep stuff and react to things in front of him rather than play deep in the zone (will have lapses and allow a receiver to come free when he eyeballs the backfield too long)...Will fight for the ball in a crowd (shows good courage) and gets excellent elevation to combine with solid body control adjusting to the ball in flight...Does not shy away from contact and while he has marginal weight-room strength, he will lower his shoulder and thump a ballcarrier in attempts to contain the outside run...Shows good vision, foot quickness, and change-of-direction agility as a return specialist...Fields the ball cleanly as a kickoff and punt returner and has a knack for making big plays with the ball in his hands...Not a great wrap-up tackler (struggles to bring opponents down), but will square up and put his hat on the ballcarrier (not effective when he tackles to the side, as he will fall off those hits).
Negatives: Lacks ideal bulk, but has good muscle definition...Does not always play up to his timed speed, but does show good urgency to close (hip flexibility is just adequate)...Needs to be more alert on the field, as he will be fooled by pump fakes and play-action...Lacks the overall strength to be a physical tackler and needs to show better route anticipation; eyes the backfield too long rather than mirroring the receiver...Not the type that can naturally locate the ball, but will get there once he finds it...Must refine his backpedal technique, as he opens his hips too soon and comes out of his pedal early (would get a better break if he was not so tall in his stance, as it narrows his hips, preventing him from getting a fluid turn on the ball)...When he spends too much time looking into the backfield when playing deep in the zone, receivers have had success getting behind him...Must take better angles closing on the ball and, when a receiver gets behind him, he struggles to recover...More of a drag-down type of tackler, but he needs to face up and wrap better (will take a side, letting receivers break his arm tackles)...Must do a better job of securing the ball and protecting it on returns (leaves it exposed, resulting in costly fumbles...Willing in run force, but lacks the tackle technique and power to be effective playing at line, getting washed out often by bigger blockers in a crowd...Has adequate hands, but he needs to do a better job of extending for the ball (uses his body as a crutch and several of his pass deflections could have been interceptions if he caught the ball outside his frame).
Compares To: R.W. McQUARTERS-New York Giants...Like McQuarters, McKelvin is a solid return specialist, even though he does not always play to his timed speed. He needs some technique refinement, but due to a lack of natural power, he is never going to be a physical tackler. He shows willingness in run support, but is better making plays on the move than getting bounced around in tight quarters. Like McQuarters, he runs hot-and-cold with his ball-reaction skills, sometimes looking like Bambi staring down at the headlights of an oncoming truck. McKelvin has the ability to break a game open once he finds a crease on returns. Until he can prove that he can add strength, his immediate value will be on special teams.
2003: Missed two games during his high school senior year due to a concussion.
2005: Suffered a left shoulder (AC joint) sprain during March camp and the injury bothered him going forward.
2006: Had surgery in April to repair a right ankle fracture.
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