TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher added to his defensive staff with the hire of former Georgia Tech assistant Charles Kelly as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator for the Seminoles.
"I'm excited to have Charles joining our staff," Fisher said. "He brings a wealth of knowledge on the defensive side of football to our program. He's a great recruiter and coach who has been in the south a long time, where he's developed a reputation as one of the best. Not only is he going to bring a lot to our staff in all phases of coaching, but he's a quality person that we can't wait to have join our Seminole family."
Kelly just completed his seventh season at Georgia Tech and his third season as coach of the secondary. During his time with the Yellow Jackets, he also served stints coaching the cornerbacks and special teams. Kelly was elevated to interim defensive coordinator after the sixth game in 2012.
"I'm very excited to have an opportunity to work for Coach Fisher and be a part of a championship program like Florida State," Kelly said. "I know Coach Fisher's goal is to win a national championship and that's something I'm hoping to help the program accomplish. I'd like to thank Paul Johnson and Chan Gailey for giving me the opportunity to be at Georgia Tech for seven years. We had some very good times together. I really appreciate everything that the other coaches, support staff and alumni did for me and my family. We leave there with very fond memories."
Since taking over the Georgia Tech defense after a 2-4 start (1-3 in the ACC), Kelly helped the Yellow Jackets improve significantly in every defensive statistical category. Georgia Tech finished the season with a 7-7 record after defeating USC in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Kelly's defense limited the high-powered Trojan offense to 205 yards and seven points in the bowl win. The final national rankings showed the Yellow Jackets' improvements with Kelly running the defense as compared to the first part of the season. Through the first six games of the season, Georgia Tech ranked 83rd in scoring defense (30.17 points per game), 68th in rushing defense (163.3 yards per game), 98th in passing defense (267.7 yards per game), 89th in total defense (431 yards per game) and 78th in sacks (1.67 sacks per game). The Yellow Jackets finished the year with an improvement in scoring defense (65 th, 28.3 points per game), rushing defense (41st, 144.2 yards per game), passing defense (68th, 229.8 yards per game), total defense (43rd, 374.0 yards per game) and sacks (59th, 2.0 sacks per game).
One of the biggest improvements in Tech's defense the last eight games of the season was its play in the second half, specifically in the fourth quarter. In the first six games of the season, Tech allowed an average of 13.3 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime, compared to just 3.9 points in the fourth quarter the final eight games of the season. The Yellow Jackets did not allow a fourth-quarter point in each of their final four games (Duke, Georgia, FSU and USC). The defense shut out both FSU and USC in the second half of those games. Opponents scored 44.2 percent of their points in the fourth quarter and in OT through the first six games of the season, compared to just 14.4 percent of their points in the fourth quarter over the final eight games.
Kelly took over responsibility for the secondary in 2010 after coaching the cornerbacks in 2008 and 2009.
Over the last four seasons, Georgia Tech has recorded 52 interceptions. In 2008, the Yellow Jackets recorded 18 INTs, including three by true freshman cornerback Rashaad Reid, who was a second team Freshmen All-American.
In 2008, Tech ranked in the top 30 nationally in total defense and scoring defense. In 2009, Kelly helped develop a number of cornerbacks including Mario Butler, a 14-game starter, and Jerrard Tarrant, who picked off two passes, including one for a touchdown in the Orange Bowl. Tarrant was responsible for all four of Tech's non-offensive touchdowns in 2009.
In 2010, both Butler and Tarrant returned interceptions for touchdowns. Butler and Tarrant were invited to the NFL Combine.
Last season Kelly inherited four new starters in the secondary and molded that youthful unit into a group that helped Georgia Tech rank second in the ACC?and 28th nationally in pass defense. With just one senior among the starters, Tech recorded 14 interceptions in 2011, six more than the previous season.
Kelly, a former defensive coordinator at three different schools, served as the Yellow Jackets' special teams coordinator in 2006 and 2007. He was instrumental in making Georgia Tech one of the nation's best special teams units in 2007. That group went from 119th in the nation in kick return defense in 2006 to second in 2007. Under Kelly's guidance, punter Durant Brooks and place-kicker Travis Bell each earned first team All-ACC accolades. Brooks earned the prestigious Ray Guy Award in 2007 and recorded the highest career punting average in ACC history.
In Kelly's first year in 2006, Brooks earned second-team All-America and first-team All-ACC honors. With the combination of Brooks and outstanding coverage, Tech ranked second in the nation in net punting. Brooks averaged better than 45 yards per punt, and almost half of his kicks pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line. Kelly spent the previous four seasons at Nicholls State, an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program, which captured the Southland Conference title in 2005.
Under Kelly, who served as defensive backs coach during his first two seasons at Nicholls, the Colonels finished as the top-ranked defense in the Southland Conference in 2005 and 17th nationally among FCS programs. Nicholls led the Southland in total defense and rushing defense, while ranking second in scoring defense.
Kelly was instrumental in developing two-time All-America cornerback Chris Thompson, who was drafted in 2004 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kelly went to Nicholls State in 2002 from Eufaula (Ala.) High School, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two seasons. Prior to his move to the high school ranks, the Ozark, Ala., native spent one season (1999) as defensive coordinator at Henderson State and two seasons as defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State. His term as defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State culminated a five-year stay on the JSU staff (1994-98), and he also coordinated the offense and coached the defensive backs, running backs, quarterbacks and receivers over the course of his stay.
Before going to Jacksonville State, Kelly served one year as a graduate assistant at Auburn and was part of the Tigers' 11-0 season in 1993. He spent three seasons as an assistant football coach and baseball coach at Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. (1990-92).
Kelly has coached eight players that have made it to the National Football League, including Brooks, Thompson, Delvin Hugley, Calvin Jackson, Chris Schelling, Dell McGee and most recently, Jahi Word- Daniels and Mario Butler.
A 1990 graduate of Auburn with a degree in secondary math education, Kelly played defensive back under former Tiger coach Pat Dye. His senior class put together a four-year record of 39-7-2 while participating in four bowl games. In 2002, Kelly earned a master's degree in education from Troy State. Kelly and his wife, Kristy, have three daughters, Caroline, Kathleen and Charli Grace.