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Adversity hasn’t wavered Kelly-Martin’s attitude, running back listed as starter ahead of Citrus Bowl

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 10:47 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Getting to finish what could be his final season with the Hawkeyes as the starter in the Citrus Bowl, is special for fifth year running back Ivory Kelly-Martin.

“For everything to come around like this and for me to end up getting this opportunity in a big bowl game like this, is special. It’s something I’m working really hard for,” said Kelly-Martin.

He earned his first start with the Hawkeyes his sophomore season in 2018, but late in the season he suffered an ankle injury and saw his production drop. He played in just four games in 2019 and then tore his ACL in the 2020 season. Dealing with injuries is never easy, but to his team, his attitude has never wavered.

“You’ve got to give him a lot of credit. He’s had disappointment. He’s had competition, but he’s never changed all the way through this. He has been steady, works hard and takes care of business,” said Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“Ivo has been through a lot, but the one thing about Ivo is - he’s always going to be a good teammate no matter what. Guys who go through stuff like, that’s what you appreciate about them,” said junior center Tyler Linderbaum.

“I mean there’s obviously been some plays that he would like back, every player on the team would. No one’s perfect,” said sophomore punter Tory Taylor. “What people don’t understand and I wish they would understand better is Ivory is such a great person.”

This season he’s been a strong compliment to Tyler Goodson rushing for 190 yards and a touchdown. Heading into the bowl game, his goal is to help the Hawks cap off a historic season. As a bonus, he’ll get to do so in front family. His parents live in Orlando.

“I know that when I was able to see them for senior day, it was really, crazy emotional. I know being able to have a little bit of a homecoming and see them all down there again, is going to be the same feelings,” said Kelly-Martin. “I’m excited to go out and play with my brothers too. Some of these teammates I’ll never be able to play with again.”

Kelly-Martin hasn’t decided what his plans are for next season, but if it is his last game as a Hawkeye, his teammates hope to give him a stage to shine on.

“If it is his last game, I’m looking forward to him showing out and putting on a show for the fans because there’s no one more deserving of it than him,” added Taylor.

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