November 10, 2007

Keeping It In The Family

Nov. 10, 2007

By Michelle Bradley
Special to GoHolyCross.com

To say football is in Mark Kelliher's blood would be an understatement. The senior outside linebacker has followed in his father, two uncles, and older brother's footsteps as a successful football player on a well-known and competitive team. His father, Fred, and one of his uncle's alma mater: UMass-Amherst.

Needless to say, anyone who has followed Holy Cross football knows of the efforts against the Minutemen this season. Making the start against UMass, Kelliher recorded two assisted and unassisted tackles. As for the former UMass quarterback, Fred came prepared to support his son and his former team.

"It was a great experience to play on the same field as them," said Kelliher.

Kelliher's mother, Maryann, also makes sure to be involved with all her sons' football careers.

"She's a sweetheart, especially raising three boys," said Kelliher.

Also following in his family's success in football, Kelliher has made an impact on and off the field. A player that many coaches would like associated with their programs, Kelliher took advantage during his early collegiate years to learn all aspects of the game. A very steady and reliable player, Kelliher keeps his game low-key and focuses on his main objective -- to get his job done. Moving from being a backup outside linebacker during his junior year, Kelliher was moved inside half way through the season.

"It can be tough to be moved in the middle of the season, especially in college football -- it's a completely different job," said Kelliher.

Like most football players, injuries have made the objective of staying healthy during the season no easy task for Kelliher. He suffered two knee injuries during his time at Holy Cross, keeping him out spring ball for the past two seasons.

A versatile player on defense, Kelliher's sophomore season as a starter was halted when he injured his right knee, missing the final game of the year. He made sure to maintain a successful and steady recovery heading into his junior year, but that was short-lived as he re-injured his right knee.

With the second injury, Kelliher was replaced with a sophomore teammate, but never turned away from the position even if he was not starting.

"Even listed as a backup, he still helped with the underclassman that had his starting position," said linebackers coach Mark McDonough. "He is what you want from a senior -- he is not selfish and will ask what he can do when asked to play any linebacker position."

His determination to be healthy for senior year paid off as Kelliher was able to make a full recovery in time to play this season. Overcoming his knee injuries and wanting his senior season to be a successful one, Kelliher worked to enter 2007 in the best shape of his life. Faster, stronger and continuing his versatility in several linebacker positions has made him a major contributor to the success of the Crusaders' defense. Rotating between the linebacker positions, Kelliher made a start at the middle linebacker position during the Georgetown game, continuing to show his reliability on the field. Against Georgetown, Kelliher made five unassisted tackles and assisted on two. Entering this week's contest against Lafayette, Kelliher ranks as the team's fourth leading tackler. He has totaled a career-high 43 tackles, including 28 solo stops, four tackles for loss and three sacks. Kelliher has also recorded two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery so far in his senior year.

Back on the field in the role of a senior leader, Kelliher has enjoyed his final year on the field while providing a example for all of the younger players in the program.

"The guys on the team make it easy. We may be only a few years older but on the field it can make a difference sometimes," said Kelliher.

This story originally appeared in the November 10 edition of the Holy Cross Gameday program, for the contest between the Crusaders and Lafayette. To order a copy of the program, click here.