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May 8, 2012

Fitts to put skills to the test at Challenge

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

Redlands (Calif.) East Valley defensive end Kylie Fitts is never afraid to flash a smile on or off the field.

"I enjoy the game," he said. "When I am on the field I am serious but I am having fun. I am trying to be encouraging and a leader and that is how I do it. When I am not playing, I am trying to have fun."

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound USC commit is the No. 7 player at his position and the No. 81 overall player in the Rivals100. His place among the best in the country is as secure as his smile.

"If people think I am not tough enough because I smile I would tell them to put in my tape," he said. "I just let my play be tough."

Fitts, who is also set to be a U.S. Army All-American, will be coming from California to Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta for the June 22-24 Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.

The trip, he says, is to prove to those who doubt him that he is elite.

"I really think there are people who doubt that I am as good as my ranking," Fitts said. "They doubt my change of direction and so I think I have something to prove out there.

"I want to show people that I have been working hard and that I have improved a lot in the offseason."

He also wants to show that you can play football with a passion and not act like a man possessed.

"I think some of those tough-guys are faking it," he said. "Like they think they need to look like something they are not."

Fitts says that his foundation in religion is part of what helps him maintain his balance on the field and off.

"Outside of football I want people to know me as a good person," he said. "That is more important to me than what happens on the field. I am a Christian and that is a big part of my life, being positive, being uplifting, if I can use football as a vehicle to show others those qualities that is fine with me."

With the popularity of Tim Tebow, and the media coverage of his faith, Fitts has seen the positives and negatives associated with vocalizing religion and religious beliefs, but he says that any attention can be positive.

"I think a lot of people criticize (Tim Tebow) but it gets the word out," he said. "I think that if athletes show that they are humble it is huge because it can set a good example and if you can be big-time like he is and be an example to do positive things people will notice that more than criticize your beliefs."

It is his beliefs that gives Fitts the confidence to put his status among the elite high school football players on the line at the invitation-only Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.

"It is going to be a developmental trip for me," he said. "But one that I feel blessed to be making."

Mike Farrell's take

Fitts is a huge end who is very good on film but wants to come to Atlanta to show that his has the consistent toughness and nastiness to be an elite player at the next level. I'm interested to see how he handles the Big Man Challenge when he goes against some very aggressive and physical offensive linemen. He has a tremendous ceiling and it will be great to compare him and future teammate Kenny Bigelow in the same setting.



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