USA TODAY Images
Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade.
Chad Kelly, Jason Pellerin and Drew Davis.
Class of 2016 Signees
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was dominant in 2015. Not only did Kelly lead the SEC in passing yards and passing touchdowns, but he also imprinted his name in the Rebels' record books. He threw a single-season record 4,042 yards and tied Eli Manning for passing touchdowns in a season with 31. He also set single-season records for completions (298) and total offense (4,542). Not to mention, Kelly led Ole Miss to its first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1969, in which he was named MVP after dominating Oklahoma State's defense in a 48-20 win.
While Kelly is the unquestionable starter and enters 2016 as one of the top quarterbacks in the country, there are aspects of his game he must work on. Kelly's aggressive competitive nature is what makes him one of the best, but it also hurt him in 2015. He threw the second most interceptions in the SEC (13) in 2015 and made some poor decisions while looking to make a big play. Some of those mistakes were caused by the immense pressure to produce in his debut season as the Rebels' quarterback. Ole Miss struggled to run the ball in the early portion of last season and relied heavily on its passing game. With more of a contribution expected from the running backs this season, along with Ole Miss coaches giving Kelly more freedom to run the ball, the senior signal caller should be able to avoid some of the mistakes from last season.
For the first time in years, Ole Miss fans have a reason to be excited about a backup quarterback. Shea Patterson signed to the Rebels as the top high school quarterback prospect in the country and has already impressed Ole Miss coaches. Kelly sat out spring practices with a groin injury which allowed Patterson to get first team reps as a true freshman. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze had good things to say about Patterson when he met with members of the media after the conclusion of spring practices.
"He’s fearless, confident. But he had a learning curve," Freeze said. "Those first two weeks, he’s got a thousand different looks coming at him and different terminology and you’ve got to set the protection this way or that way.
First couple of weeks, it was ‘How are you going to handle the struggles?’ He’s not used do struggling a whole lot. The learning curve I saw from week two to the end, I was extremely impressed. Probably more impressed than I thought I would be."
There is no telling if Patterson redshirts or plays in the fall. It'll be a challenge for Ole Miss coaches to convince a talented player like Patterson to sit out an entire year. If he doesn't redshirt it's hard to determine which games Patterson will see the field and for how long.
Jason Pellerin will most likely see the field this fall in special packages. Like Patterson, Pellerin took first-team snaps in the spring and displayed the ability to move the Ole Miss offense. While he doesn't have the same arm strength and accuracy as Kelly and Patterson, Pellerin can certainly run the ball better. His role this fall might be similar to former Ole Miss quarterback Barry Brunetti, whom Freeze used primarily to run the football.