When former University of Texas quarterback Shannon Kelley learned about his mother’s terminal illness, he realized it was time to change career paths.

Kelley is the Assistant Head Coach and running backs coach at Houston Baptist University. He joined HBU in 2012 to help start the football program.

“We are building a program here at HBU, and it is a very neat adventure,” Kelley said.

Kelley played for Texas 1984-1988, but saw limited action on the field. He ended his career with a 4-3 record as a starter.

Coming out of Houston Memorial High School as a Class 5A All-State quarterback, Kelley received many football scholarship offers, both in and out-of-state. He narrowed his decision to four schools: University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Baylor University and Southern Methodist University. After visiting Austin, the decision was easy.

“I fell in love with Austin [and] the university,” Kelly said. “I loved the tradition there.”

Kelley graduated from UT in 1989 with a communications degree. He received his masters from the University of St. Thomas in Houston in business administration. After working in the investment business for 15 years, Kelley moved into real estate.

Kelley left the game of football for almost 20 years. His mother’s illness pushed him to return.

“It wasn’t until my mother had terminal cancer that I realized life is short so you better go do what you want to do or what makes you happy,” Kelley said.

In 2008, Kelly sold everything his family had in Houston and moved to West Virginia, where his family owned a house. Kelley coached quarterbacks at Fairmont State University, a Division II school in Fairmont, West Virginia.

“Coaching football had been where my heart is, but for some reason I didn’t jump into it right after college,” Kelley said. “I thought I needed to chase money rather than do what made me happy.”

Kelley coached at Fairmont State for two seasons before accepting a job at California University of Pennsylvania for the 2011 season. Kelley was the Director of Athletic Funding and the running backs coach.

In 2012, the head coach of HBU, Vic Shealy, offered Kelley a job. The school was starting a football program, and Shealy needed coaches. HBU played its first football season in 2013 with a schedule consisting of seven games. In 2014, HBU joined the Southland Conference.

“Not many coaches get the opportunity to be a part of starting a program,” Kelley said. “I’ll tell you, it is a blessing because there are so many hats you have to wear in order to make it happen.”

Kelley, as most alumni would, hopes to end up back at UT coaching one day.

“That’s the Holy Grail for me,” Kelley said. “But if it doesn’t happen, I am going to go wherever the lord takes me.”