Why Kelby Valsin chose Texas Tech over 30 offers

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For most, it may take years of varsity football to earn a D1 scholarship offer. 

But not for Arlington Bowie wide receiver Kelby Valsin. All it took for him was one preseason scrimmage. 

Valsin started playing sports when he was three years old. He played basketball first and quickly added flag football and baseball to his early athletic resume. Valsin was always a gifted athlete. 

He continued to play football up until eighth grade, but stopped when he and his dad decided it would be good for his body to take a year or two off of football and focus on basketball. He believed he had a future in basketball, but he always planned to return to football.

“I was always planning on coming back,” Valsin said. “[I wanted to] at some point during my high school career.”

After two years of basketball, one of them on varsity, Valsin decided it was time to make his return to football and it didn’t take long for him to turn heads once he did. 

“I could tell he could be special after the first two or three practices just because of how natural he looked,” Arlington Bowie head coach Joseph Sam said. “You could tell that he had it, he just needed to be coached up.”

Despite his two year hiatus from football, he kept himself ready by working out with his older brother Jimmy. Jimmy Valsin, also a wide receiver, was a three-star recruit in 2021 according to 247 Sports. He held over 20 offers from programs around the country, such as Houston, Colorado, Kansas State and Cincinnati, but he ended up committing to play for the PAC-12’s Oregon State. Whenever he was in town, he always made sure that Kelby came to the field with him to work out and run routes.

“Every time he went to the field I went with him,” Valsin said. “I’d run routes with him and do footwork drills. He helped me stay ready. I give a lot of credit to him.”

The summer work he put in with his brother helped his smooth transition back to football. Valsin and his “god-given talent” helped him pick up football right where he left off, and college coaches were quick to notice. 

After watching one scrimmage-worth of highlights, Oregon State had seen enough. The Beavers quickly offered the receiver his first scholarship. Coach Sam tries to market his players as well as he can by talking to coaches and sending film around the country and Oregon State liked what they saw.  That got the ball rolling. 

"That offer was surreal to me," Valsin said. "I didn't know it was coming."

Valsin caught 49 passes for 831 yards and eight touchdowns during his junior season. He shined as a deep threat in the Bowie offense, and  his coach saw improvement as the season went along.

“It was his first time playing varsity football and in basketball he was a point guard so he always had the ball in his hands,” Sam said. “You would see some of the frustration when he wasn’t getting the ball when he thought he was open. He started naturally growing into a mindset of ‘OK, I was actually covered when I thought I was open, but I helped someone else get open.’”

The 6-2, 175-pounder was a big play machine in his junior season. He was nearly unguardable and could catch most of what was thrown his way. 

“My playstyle is like Mike Williams from the Chargers,” he said. “A contested catch, go-get-it, big playmaker. That’s what I see myself as. A real deep threat.”

His head coach agreed with him about the Mike Williams comparison, but also compared him to guys like Michael Irvin and Keyshawn Johnson due to his size and deep threat ability, but can also outrun their defenders. 

Throughout the season, Valsin continued accumulating offers, but action really picked up after the season, when coaches had a whole season’s worth of film to look at. He now has over 30 offers from schools all around the country. Valsin has always had confidence in himself, but not even he could have predicted this. 

“I knew I was going to get looked at, but I didn’t expect to have 30 offers by now,” Valsin said. “I would be lying to you if I saw I expected all this to happen after just one year of football. -- It's crazy to think about. God works in mysterious ways."

As previously mentioned, Valsin received over 30 offers in less than a year, but his decision came down to three schools: Texas Tech, Boston College and Stanford. 

On July 4, he provided Red Raider fans with some extra fireworks, as he announced his commitment to Texas Tech on Twitter. 

"My relationship with the coaches played a huge factor in my decision," Valsin said. "They were always genuine with me. I know some players on Tech and they backed up everything the coaches were saying. I'm just excited to be a Red Raider." 

As far as potential goes, Valsin’s may be unlimited. He has only played high school football for one season so there are many areas where he can improve. He got a lot bigger after one year, so it is scary to think about what could happen to him after three or four years in Lubbock. 

“He is going to make major strides this year, but he still has a ton of room to grow," Sam said. "The great thing about him is he’s a natural worker. If you give him something to work on, he's gonna work on it. That’s why I say his potential is kind of unlimited. – He’s an awesome kid and an awesome player. I honestly think he can play on Sundays.”

Since Valsin is still relatively new to football, he wants to improve in many areas next season. 

“I think I could get better at everything,” Valsin said. “This was my first year coming back so I have a lot to improve on. I want to improve every aspect of my game.”

A year ago, Valsin hadn't even played a game of varsity football. He was still a basketball player and he still had 0 offers. Since then he has become one of the country's fastest rising recruits and has earned the oppurtunity to play college football at Texas Tech. 

"I haven't really had the chance to sit back and see everything I have accomplished," he said. "It's just so crazy to think about."


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