New Ole Miss Starting QB Chad Kelly Will Be a Star for the Rebels

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 31, 2015

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
Ole Miss QB Chad KellyRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Another domino in the SEC quarterback mystery has fallen.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze announced on Monday during his weekly press conference that junior college transfer Chad Kelly will take the first snap against UT-Martin on Saturday.

Kelly beat out sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, according to Ben Garrett of Scout.com, but won't be the only quarterback to take snaps on Saturday.

Ben Garrett @SpiritBen

Freeze said Kelly's starting position isn't locked in stone. Still an ongoing competition. All three will play.

The 6'2", 215-pounder who started his career at Clemson heading to East Mississippi Community College won a junior college national championship last year, running a similar offense to the one he's operating in Oxford.

Despite his relative inexperience at Ole Miss, that playing time at East Mississippi will certainly help him transition to his new starting role with the Rebels and will help make him a star in the SEC.

Chad Kelly's 2014 Stats at East Mississippi CC
Comp. %YdsTDsINTsRush Yds.Rush TDs

That's exactly what he will be: a star.

If this was truly a quarterback battle at this point, loyalty and familiarity to the program would likely take precedent, which would suggest that Freeze would give the nod to Buchanan or Kincade. Sure, Freeze is keeping his options open and giving himself an out, but why wouldn't he?

Ole Miss hosts Fresno State after UT-Martin, before heading to Tuscaloosa in Week 3. Keeping his offense as much of a mystery as possible prior to that big showdown with the Crimson Tide is probably a good idea, especially with a dual-threat weapon like Kelly.

Sure, he's new, and everybody always panics over first-year starting quarterbacks in the offseason. But it's not like former starter Bo Wallace was Tom Brady in Oxford. After all, "good Bo" and "bad Bo" became a popular Internet talking point for a reason.

One look at his tape and you'll see that Kelly is much more of a threat to be a home-run hitter on the ground than Wallace, has a much more fluid delivery, can complete the touch passes and has the arm strength to be successful in any system.

Kelly won't just take over from Wallace; he'll expand on what Wallace helped establish. Ole Miss' identity is as a downfield passing attack that thrives with a quarterback who's a threat with his legs and puts stress on defenses both north/south and east/west. 

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
Ole Miss QB Chad KellyRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Kelly has more upside than his predecessor and more weapons around him.

It's not just Laquon Treadwell in Oxford, although the junior is one of the top wide receivers in the game. There are veterans Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo, tight end Evan Engram and 6'2", 220-pound Washington transfer Damore'ea Stringfellow, too. Kelly should, at the very least, be able to match Wallace's production on the ground.

If Ole Miss can find a way to take some pressure off Kelly by running more effectively between the tackles, Kelly will blow past that production and squarely into the discussion for the Heisman Trophy.

Is that premature?

Well sure, but you don't get rich on Wall Street by buying stocks after they're established.

Buy into the Kelly hype. If he can stay out of trouble off of the field—which has been a problem in the past, as Bleacher Report's Christopher Walsh noted this summer—he'll be a star on it.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93 XM 208. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.


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