CLEMSON - Aaron Kelly isn't old enough to remember the television show Gumby. In his spare time, he might want to do some research on the clay-mation star of bygone days.
"Gumby" is Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden's nickname for his redshirt freshman wide receiver. Bowden came up with the moniker because, much like the children's character, Kelly is long, lean, shifty and ultra-flexibile.
"You just can't hit him flush," Bowden said following Wednesday's practice, explaining the nickname.
The coach also explained something else about Kelly, a trait that ultimately will serve him far better than any of his physical skills.
Kelly, Bowden said, is virtually unflappable.
"There's a saying that goes 'The mouth says one thing, the eyes say another.' If you've been on the sidelines a long time as a coach and you look into a guy's eyes, you can tell whether they're flustered (or) lost confidence," said Bowden. "That man has got the look in his eyes. For a redshirt freshman I'm just really amazed.
"He still makes a lot of mistakes because he's a redshirt freshman, and coach (Dabo) Swinney coaches him hard. It don't phase him. He takes it...he doesn't pout."
The coach has paid off, and then some.
After opening eyes during fall camp with his ability to catch the ball, Kelly has put up nice numbers so far in his first season of action. In six games, including three starts, Kelly has 24 catches for 246 yards (10.3 average per catch). He is second on the team in receptions per game behind Chansi Stuckey, and third in yards per game behind Stucky and Curtis Baham.
He's also deceptively fast, a trait not usually associated with the TV Gumby, but one which serves Kelly quite well. So well, in fact, that he and true freshman Tyler Grisham will be the starting kickoff return men this Saturday vs. Temple.
"(The other guys) have had six games," Bowden said. "They'll both be back there."
Duane Coleman and Chansi Stuckey will be the backups Saturday. Kelly will also serve as the No. 2 punt returner behind Stuckey.
Asked whether or not Kelly liked the nickname Gumby, Bowden shrugged.
"It probably just rolls off his back," he said.
Reminded that former Clemson and current San Francisco 49ers wideout Derrick Hamilton hated the nickname 'Noodle,' Bowden laughed.
"I hated it when he left early (for the NFL), too."
With the threat of Hurricane Wilma forcing Georgia Tech and Miami to postpone their scheduled game in Florida on Saturday, the Yellow Jackets will now get three or four extra days to prepare for the Oct. 29 with Clemson in Atlanta.
"Yeah, it's an advantage for them," Bowden said. "But I had the advantage in preparing for N.C. State, so how can I complain about the advantage?"
Backup offensive tackle Christian Capote is back from injury and available to play against Temple on Saturday.