Clemson is all about family, and that was exemplified at the Dabo Swinney Football Camp on Tuesday.
The sons of several former Clemson football players were among the high schoolers participating in Tuesday’s camp sessions, including Greenville (S.C.) 2022 wide receiver Aalijah Kelly, whose father, Yusef Kelly, was a standout running back for the Tigers in the early 2000s.
“I actually worked the camp last year,” Yusef told The Clemson Insider. “But of course with my son being a rising sophomore now, I’m not allowed, per NCAA rules, to work it anymore. So, I get to spectate this year.”
Aalijah, a rising sophomore who not only plays football but also competes with the basketball and the track & field team at Greenville High School, is camping at Clemson for the full second session that runs through Thursday.
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound prospect is drawing college interest for both football and basketball.
“For football, he’s had about 13 camp invites,” Yusef said. “But between that and what they’re doing for high school football, he’s not able to get to all of them. So, we try to get to what we can.”
Aalijah participated in a football camp at Virginia Tech this past weekend. After leaving Clemson on Thursday, he will head to Wofford for a basketball camp. This weekend, he will compete in a 7-on-7 event with his high school football team in Tennessee.
The Kelly family has a busy schedule as they balance Aalijah’s camp opportunities with summer workouts for his high school teams.
“We just got back from Virginia Tech Sunday night,” Yusef said. “What he does now, he does football training in the mornings, and he gets an hour break after football. Then he goes to basketball workouts until like 2:30 in the afternoon. So, he’s trying to hit it all, but we just have to look at our schedule and try to match camps up with what we can actually do versus his high school stuff.”
Yusef, who played for Tommy Bowden, is amazed by what Swinney has accomplished since he took the helm of the program.
“It is freakin’ awesome, man,” he said. “I never thought in my lifetime that I would see this university be where it is right now. But I tell people all the time, when coach (Tommy) West left and coach Bowden came in, he took the program to a certain level. And then when coach Swinney took over, he elevated it even more, and that’s what you want in a program. You want the next coach to take the next step.”
Yusef, who now works in law enforcement and serves as the supervisor over the school resource officers in Easley, loves how Swinney has made it a point to incorporate former players into the current program and make them feel like part of the family they are.
“He’s been around a program in Alabama,” Yusef said of Swinney. “One of the things he looked at and one of the reasons he thought they were successful, is that you always look around practices and games and you see former players on the sideline. So, he wanted to incorporate that and bring us back into the fold. He’s been doing that for the longest, and it’s been working.”
Yusef was happy to be back on campus watching his son at the Swinney Camp. Having worked it last year, he knows the Tigers run a first-class camp.
“From what I saw last year, they do an awesome job with the number of recruits they have,” he said. “They have so many recruits, and to be able to manage that, it’s phenomenal, to tell you the truth.”