Patriots

Why Bill Belichick speaks regularly with a Chargers player’s high school coach

“Coach Kelley’s probably the top high school coach in the country."

Bill Belichick knows Chargers tight end Hunter Henry's game well. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Bill Belichick shared Wednesday that he’s watched Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry compete ever since Henry was a high school standout at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Henry played for Kevin Kelley, who has won eight state titles and is also a friend of Belichick’s. According to Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal, Kelley came to Gillette Stadium last year to talk to the Patriots.

“Coach Kelley’s probably the top high school coach in the country and certainly has been one of the great coaches in Arkansas high school football history,” Belichick said. “I followed him, he’s a little unconventional, but he’s had great success. He’s had a lot of players come through there — we’ve had a couple of other ones here. Henry’s probably one of the best ones.”

Kelley is known nationally for essentially never punting, almost always going for two, and relying just about exclusively on onside kicks, among other intriguing tacts. ESPN shared that his team once scored 29 points before its opponent touched the ball and reported that “math backs up his innovative playcalling.”

In a Grantland piece, Kelley was described as someone who makes people “question the way the game is played.” He’s known in many circles as the “mad scientist of football” and as an outside-the-box thinker.

“I have great respect for Coach Kelley and the program he runs and some of the creative things that he does,” Belichick told reporters Wednesday.

Belichick has kept tabs on Henry ever since he first met him, and he knows he’s capable of affecting a game in a variety of ways. Henry, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound force, has 48 catches for 502 yards and three touchdowns on the season and is widely considered one of the most complete tight ends in football.

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