WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Lakota West graduate Ryan Kelly was selected 18th by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night in Chicago.
"I can't be more excited to be a Colt," Kelly told Colts.com. "It's kind of close to my hometown and it just seems like a really good organization and a good fit for me."
Kelly watched the draft with family and friends at his family's West Chester home on Thursday night. He was scheduled to take a private jet from Butler County Regional Airport at 1 p.m., to Indianapolis.
"We have a guy now to solidify the interior part of the offensive line," Colts coach Chuck Pagano told ESPN.com. "Feel great about the pick."
Lakota West coach Larry Cox said he had "game-day nerves" watching the draft. He is very happy for Kelly and looking forward to watching the Colts vs. Philadelphia Eagles preseason game Aug. 27. The Eagles have 2010 Lakota West graduate Jordan Hicks at linebacker.
Kelly, an All-American center at the University of Alabama, won the Rimington Trophy as a senior as the Crimson Tide won the national title in January.
Kelly was projected to be selected in the first round by several mock drafts. But, Kelly didn't dwell on the predictions.
He told WCPO.com last week it was business as usual in preparing for the draft. He watched the draft at his family's West Chester home.
"I've tried to stay busy the best I can between workouts and preparing for the next level so that I'm not constantly thinking about the draft," Kelly told WCPO.com. "I think by doing that you don't over think something that you for the most part have no control over now. I feel that between the combine, pro day and in-house visits I've done everything that I can do to put my best foot forward."
This is the second straight year Lakota West had a player drafted into the NFL. Philadelphia linebacker Jordan Hicks, a 2010 Lakota West graduate, was selected in the third round in 2015.
Kelly was also chosen first team all-Southeastern Conference by the Associated Press and the coaches and first-team All-America by three outlets and second team by two outlets. He was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Kelly made it back to Lakota West in recent days to work out in the high school weight room.
“I think more than anything I am proud of the way he’s handled everything,” Cox said. “Be it the way he plays – his style, his approach, everything that goes into it. He’s still working out every day. He’s real humble about it and real thankful. He realizes how awesome it is to get that (NFL) opportunity.”