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Choices aplenty for Sox pitching prospect

Casey Kelly was back on the football field yesterday, but he was wearing a glove, not shoulder pads.<p />

Casey Kelly was back on the football field yesterday, but he was wearing a glove, not shoulder pads.

Kelly was one of several Red Sox prospects working out inside BC’s gridiron bubble as part of the team’s rookie program.

The Florida native could have made football a full-time gig back in 2008, when he was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee. But Kelly, 20, chose baseball, signing with the Red Sox after they drafted him in the first round.

In retrospect, it was the best decision Kelly ever made. He was recruited by Philip Fulmer, who was replaced soon after by Lane Kiffin.

But Kiffin bolted for USC last week, and Kelly would now be under his third head coach with the Vols.

“When I heard that [Kiffin] was leaving, it definitely shocked me,” Kelly said. “I was joking with my dad, ‘I guess we did make the right decision about not playing at Tennessee.’”

Kelly made another life-altering decision last month, choosing to pursue a full-time career as a pitcher, putting his shortstop glove in mothballs for good.

He’s expected to compete for a spot in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation out of spring training.

“It seems each year I’ve had a pretty big question to answer,” said Kelly, who went 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA in 17 Class-A starts. “This one was tougher. I knew I loved baseball and I knew it was what I wanted to do. For this one, I had long discussions with my family. I finally came to the sense that I wanted to have a great career in the big leagues and pitching was that [path].”