East Mississippi Community College quarterback Chad Kelly, a former Clemson transfer, committed to the Rebels Wednesday following an official visit to the school. He made the announcement via Twitter.
Kelly enters a quarterback race with rising redshirt sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade. The pair played only sparingly this season, combining for 27 pass completions in 39 attempts for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“It’s a great school, great atmosphere, great town and a great coaching staff,” Kelly said of Ole Miss. “I know a lot of the players on the team; I’m familiar with a lot of friends on the team, really.
“There’s some great quarterbacks at Ole Miss in Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade and even my friend Drew Davis. All those guys are great quarterbacks; that’s the reason they are there. I’m just going to go in and try to help the team as much as I can. It’s an open job. You’ve got to go and win it and show your talent.”
Kelly, rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com, recently completed an official visit to Ole Miss. The Rebels, along with Virginia Tech, LSU, Indiana and others, showed interest in him throughout the recruiting process.
He led No. 1 East Mississippi to an NJCAA national championship over No. 2 Iowa Western on Sunday, completing 40 of 53 passes for 434 yards and five touchdowns. He finished the season with 3,906 passing yards and 47 touchdowns, as well as 446 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
“It’s been great,” Kelly said of his experience at EMCC. “It’s a humbling experience to come down to Scooba, Mississippi, all the way from New York. There’s nothing but football, school, friends, teammates and coaches. That’s all it was.
“We all came together. We knew at the start of May that we had a special team. We knew there was a standard set. We just came out and performed.”
Kelly enrolled at EMCC after he was dismissed from Clemson in April after he showed what Tiger head coach Dabo Swinney said was “a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program.”
“I hope he will mature and grow from this and become the man and player I know he can be,” Swinney said in a statement following the decision. “I wish him nothing but the best in the future academically and athletically.”
Kelly had no reported incidents at EMCC, drawing positive reviews from his head coach, Buddy Stephens, and teammate D.J. Jones, a four-star prospect and, like Kelly, an Ole Miss target.
“He’s a winner,” Jones said in an interview with Patrick Ochs of SunHerald.com. “Regardless of everything that has been said of him, he’s a winner. He’s going to play his butt off.”
“Someone is going to get one heck of a football player,” Stephens said Sunday in an interview with Riley Blevins of The Clarion-Ledger. “Chad Kelly at 80 percent is better than most D-I quarterbacks at 100 percent.”
Kelly, the nephew of former Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly, redshirted in 2012, his debut season at Clemson. His completed 10 of 17 passes for 58 yards in 55 snaps over five games in 2013. He had 117 rushing yards and one touchdown on only 16 carries.
“Kelly has emerged as the top JUCO arm in this class and is a player who will be able to come in and have a quick grasp on a college level offense,” Greg Powers, National Recruiting Analyst for Scout.com, wrote of Kelly in a November evaluation. “He has a solid arm to go with the ability to make quick decisions. He is accurate with his placements and can fit the ball into tight windows.”
Kelly has two seasons to play two.
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