When you need the unadulterated truth and to cut to the core of what is happening with the football team, Jason Kelce is your man. He's as confident as he is talented - and that's quite a bit.
Kelce stepped into a leadership role on the offensive line this year and moved to center just before the season started. He handled the calls and kept the rest of the young players in place. He deserves a large amount of the credit for the offensive line's marked improvement over the course of the season.
He's enjoyed one of the more underappreciated seasons of the year, primarily because of the anonymity of his position.
Kelce played in two BCS bowl games and started in both. GoBearcats.com reporter William Frasure caught up with Kelce this week as he leads up to his final game with the Bearcats to talk about what he accomplished and his emotions leading up to Senior Day.
Q: With this week being your last week of practice, how surreal is that going through your last week of practice as a Bearcat?
Jason Kelce: We've kinda seen it coming for a few weeks now. It's just incredible how fast it's gone, that's the biggest thing. I feel like I just got here. The time literally has flown by for us, and the fact that it's all culminating to an end, it's just, what to do now? That's the biggest question.
Q: How have you dealt with this being your final week in a Bearcat uniform? With it going so fast, how have you come to grips with it?
JK: I don't know if I really have yet, you know what I mean. It probably will all hit me at Saturday at .
Q: Usually at this time of year, you guys are working toward a bowl game. What's the feeling like not working toward one? Is it weird after working for one every other year you've been here?
JK: It's extremely weird. It's the first time it's happened since I got here that we didn't have a postseason bowl game, and hopefully the last the Bearcat program that doesn't go. We've just been telling all the younger guys to not forget what this feels like and work in the offseason so that this never happens again.
Q: Reflecting on your time as a Bearcat, what do you have to say about the growth of yourself as a Bearcat? What's the difference between the person who came to UC and the person you are now?
JK: I've grown tremendously, especially mentally. I've matured a lot. Came in here young and rambunctious, but now I feel like I'm leaving as a pretty mature guy who's ready to enter the next phase of my life.
Q: It's kind of early, but looking back on your career, what do you have to say about your time as a Bearcat?
JK: Couldn't really have asked for anything better. The guys who I've had a chance to play with, the teammates I've had a chance to be around, the success we've had. Obviously this year we were down, but the past two years we were Big East champions. Really couldn't ask for anything better from my time at UC.
Q: Going along with that, how's it make you feel that you were a part of the team's that rose this program to heights it's never been to with the BCS bowl appearances and Big East Titles.
JK: It makes you feel good that you were a part of turning it around, not only in our eyes but everyone else who watches college football. Unfortunately, we are the senior class that put a stop to the Big East championship streak, but it's an honor and it's a great feeling knowing how much we accomplished here.
Q: With you being a fifth year senior, you dealt with three different offensive schemes under Dantonio, Kelly, and Jones. How have you dealt with learning different offenses so sporadically?
JK: Really just, being coachable and being persistent. I've wanted to be competitive and have had the desire to win, and that was deep down inside all of us. That's why we were able to adjust through coaching changes. Plus, all those coaches were really good. That helped out incredibly too.
Q: With Saturday coming up, how do you think you'll react emotionally to playing your final game?
JK: It's going to be pretty emotional. Actually, it's going to be very emotional. It's going to be at an emotional high around , and then immediately following the game. I'm not sure how I'll be, but there will be a lot of emotions going through me before and after the game.