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For Huff, Kelly More Than Head Coach

Posted May 21, 2014

Josh Huff is the first member of his family to attend college and to graduate. He's in the NFL. He's on the rise. And he knows that having Chip Kelly in his life has made a world of difference ...

Josh Huff is the first member of his family to attend college and to graduate. He's in the NFL. He's on the rise on and off the football field. And he knows that having Chip Kelly in his life has made a world of difference.

"He made me into a man off the field, as well as on the field," said Huff, recruited to Oregon by Kelly and then selected by Kelly and the Eagles in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. "I definitely don't think I would be where I'm at today if it wasn't for his teaching off the field. He taught me how to carry myself off the field, more than anything. It wasn't just about football. It was about life and how I can better myself off the field.

"Coach Kelly is the kind of person who inspires you to achieve every day. I understood his message. He brings the best out of people."

Huff was a star in high school in Houston and, of course, was highly recruited. He selected Oregon and Kelly for his next step, in part, because of Kelly's in-house visit and the message that combined excellence on the football field and in the classroom would be stressed at Oregon, where the team would work as a family to accomplish the mission of winning football games, finding success in the classroom and loving every minute of the collegiate experience.

It's all worked out so well for Huff, who spends his days now at the NovaCare Complex as the team's rookies take part in the offseason conditioning program and prepare for the 2014 season.

Huff wanted to get away from Houston when he made his college decision. He wanted to experience a new environment and he found that Oregon's family atmosphere suited Huff just right. Huff experienced some rough spots growing up in Houston that have been well documented, and he wanted a fresh start.

He got one in Oregon and thrived. Huff played significant snaps in all four of his seasons -- three with Kelly as the head coach -- in the Ducks' spread-it-around attack. Huff's 24 career touchdowns at Oregon are tied for the most in school history. His 144 career receptions rank eighth and his 2,366 career receiving yards rank seventh.

When the day came for Kelly to announce to the team in the winter of 2013 that he was leaving college to become head coach in Philadelphia, Huff knew he was going to have to take the next steps in his senior season without a father figure, a mentor, as the head coach.

"We were all inside doing our winter workouts and normally Coach Kelly was not around for those workouts. We had assistant coaches there making sure we did things correctly," said Huff. "We had just finished our warmup and people started noticing that Coach Kelly walked in. At that moment, I knew that whatever he had to say wasn't going to be good. He gathered us up and told us that he loved us and that he cared about us and how proud he was of us, but that moving to the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles was something that he had to do. He wanted to take on the next challenge.

"I was hurt, but at the same time I was happy for him. At that moment, I knew that all the things that I had learned from him, I had to apply to everyday life without Coach being with me every step of the way and hone in on the things that were important. When there were times I wanted to maybe not go so hard in practice, I would think, 'Would Coach Kelly appreciate that?' I grew a lot on my own."

Huff's numbers as a senior -- 62 catches, 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns -- capped a brilliant Oregon career as a big-play maker and multiple threat in the Ducks' offense. He cemented his status as a solid draft candidate in the months leading into May's draft, and then Huff waited. And wondered. And hoped he would become an Eagle and join forces again with Chip Kelly.

"I wanted to be reunited with him and help the Eagles," said Huff. "The way it turned out, I couldn't be happier. He is the one who called me when the Eagles picked me and all I remember is coaching saying, 'We're going to take you with this pick.' From that moment on, it's been a good feeling to be here.

"I know the playbook and if I can help anybody, I'm happy to do it. I am here to improve myself every day. That's the goal. Wake up and win the day."

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