But who’s No. 2?
Redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin entered in place of Kelly midway through the fourth quarter of the Rebels’ 38-13 win over Wofford on Saturday. He was the only other quarterback to receive snaps, finishing 2 of 3 for 23 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also managed 27 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Decorated true freshman Shea Patterson, meanwhile, didn’t see the field at all, further fueling speculation that he’s on his way to a redshirt season. Head coach Hugh Freeze said no decision has been made.
“It’s week to week,” he said. “I sit down every week and have a conversation with him. He’s certainly talented enough to play. We discussed it this week. Playing him in mop-up duty is probably not the smartest thing at this juncture. We’ll keep playing it week by week and just evaluate it.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Patterson is a former U.S. Army and USA Today All-American. He was ranked the No. 1 quarterback in the nation in the 2016 recruiting class and was a five-star prospect across all recruiting services.
Ole Miss next hosts No. 1 Alabama and No. 9 Georgia in back-to-back weeks. If ever there was an opportunity to get Patterson some game reps, Saturday was it. Patterson, though, stood on the sidelines for four quarters without his helmet. His only real action was when he warmed up Pellerin by tossing a football.
“We think he has a bright, bright future,” Freeze said. “But if he’s not the guy — and he may become the guy — we don’t want to look back and say we sure wish we had him for the full amount of time.”
Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said if something were to happen to Kelly, he’d feel comfortable putting Patterson in and feels the Shreveport, La., product — who led IMG (Fla.) Academy to its first undefeated season in school history as as senior — could produce because of his preparation.
“There’s no doubt,” Werner said. “He’s studied it, and I’ve told him you’ve got to study this thing like you’re the guy. And he has. He comes in and watches film on his own all the time. He’s always coming in and asking me questions and writing notes down.
“I love what he does. I’m really pleased with his progress.”
Sources indicate if anything were to happen to Kelly, all talk of a redshirt of Patterson would end. But for now, Patterson watch continues, and the debate of what is in his best interest for the future rages on.
“Both of those guys are great players,” Kelly said of Pellerin and Patterson. “They’re young, they still got to learn more and more of this offense. The game is still moving a little fast for those guys. But the more reps they get, the better they’ll get.”