Tennessee player is changing his number to honor a Knoxville ‘hero’

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After another college football offseason full of ugly police blotter stories, it’s worth remembering that the positive examples around the sport far outweigh the negative. This week, we have another one of those shining light stories in Todd Kelly Jr., a safety at Tennessee.

Kelly has switched his jersey number from No. 6 to No. 24 to honor Zaevion Dobson, a Knoxville hero who was shot and killed while shielding a couple of girls from gunfire last December. The 15-year-old sophomore played football at Fulton High School and wore No. 24.

"My decision to wear No. 24 is all for Zaevion,” Kelly explained to reporters Monday night. "Everyone knows that he’s not here with us anymore, but his legacy lives on. He’s a kid from Knoxville that loved the game of football, so wearing this No. 24, I feel like his legacy still lives on on the football field.”

The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Kelly, a junior, had 46 tackles last season for UT and made the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He is the son of former Vols standout Todd Kelly, who starred for Tennessee in the early ’90s and became a first-round pick of the 49ers in 1993.

Vols coach Butch Jones said it was important to the 20-year-old Kelly "to represent (Zaevion), his family and this great community. It speaks volumes about TK, his character and for the Dobson family and how close they are to our family."