We are just a week away from the 2015 National Signing Day, and the Ole Miss Rebels are in the making of signing an impressive recruiting class. Ole Hotty Toddy will break down each position for you and give insight on how these talented prospects will effect the upcoming seasons.
In this article we will take a look at the quarterbacks. First we will review what was seen from the linemen in the 2014 season, then we will look at who is currently committed in the 2015 recruiting class, and finally we will wrap things up with targets who may choose to become a Rebel.
In 2014, we witnessed the final season of quarterback Bo Wallace in a Rebel uniform. At times, we saw the worst in Wallace with lackluster performances against Arkansas, LSU, and TCU. However, those performances do not override the overall success Wallace brought to the program in his three seasons. Wallace (and Freeze) inherited a football program that was on a downward spiral after a season that saw just two wins.
In his final year at Ole Miss, Wallace had the biggest performance of his career when he threw for 251 yards and added three touchdowns en-route to a 23-17 victory over No. 3 ranked (AP Poll) Alabama. Wallace may have not thrown a touchdown in the Egg Bowl, but the future NFL prospect threw for 296 yards, and led the Rebels to a 31-17 victory over the Bulldogs, claiming a 2-1 Egg Bowl record in his Ole Miss career.
Wallace finished his career at Ole Miss with 10,478 total offensive yards, surpassing Eli Manning’s record by over 350 yards, and with that became the school’s all-time leader in total offense. The criticism that comes with Wallace’s tenure at Ole Miss was his gut-wrenching turnover ratio. Wallace finished with 41 interceptions in 39 total games. That means Wallace averaged more than one interception per game in his Ole Miss career. But, does that stat overshadow the glorious victories over high ranked SEC teams like LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi State? No. Even with Eli considered by many as the all-time greatest quarterback to step into Oxford, Wallace’s biggest wins compared to Manning’s came against higher rated teams. So, without question, Wallace will go down in Ole Miss history as one of the greatest Rebel quarterbacks of all-time.
The 2014 season also saw the redshirt lifts of two former four-star prospects from the 2013 recruiting class, Devante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan. Kincade made the first appearance of the two in the Boise State game. However, Buchanan was the one who showed overall the consistency throughout the season. They both displayed how inexperienced they were in the nation’s toughest conference when they were called upon to get the Rebels out of a jam, with an injured Wallace on the sidelines during the devastating shutout against Arkansas.
Nov 22, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Ole Miss Rebels quarterback DeVante Kincade (2) looks to pass against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas defeated Mississippi 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Now that Wallace is gone, many question who will be the next leader of offense for the 2015 season. A lot fans are Kincade supporters, and believe the Texas native will carry the Rebels to the promise land next season. Both Buchanan and Kincade will be involved in intense competition this spring and fall for the battle of the starting role at quarterback. This battle will include the future prospects coming into the program.
Looking Ahead (Who’s committed?)
On JUCO National Signing Day in December of 2014, Ole Miss signed the nation’s No. 1 JUCO quarterback, four-star prospect Chad Kelly. The Buffalo, New York native committed to Clemson in 2013, and was involved in feuds with players and coaches during the 2013 season. This led to Kelly being dropped from the team, and transferring to East Mississippi Community College during last season.
This is not the first time Hugh Freeze has acquired a talented quarterback who produced amazing numbers, and adding a National Title win at EMCC. Wallace was a former hero for the Lions. Kelly’s success at EMCC may not have been as jaw dropping as Wallace’s stats, but recording 3,906 passing yards and a 47:8 TD/INT ratio was not too shabby.
Freeze knew he needed a quick fix to the gaps at quarterback. Adding Kelly to the roster, could only bring relief to the concerns, as long as Kelly can stay out of trouble. The starting role battle between Kelly, Buchanan, and Kincade will be one of those most exciting coverages during the Rebels’ off-season.
Nov 2, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Chad Kelly (11) runs with the ball past Virginia Cavaliers defensive tackle Donte Wilkins (93) to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. The Tigers won 59-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
There is no need of worry about the future stock at quarterback. Besides Kelly, Freeze has also went after talented high school prospects this recruiting season. The Rebels made 14 total scholarship offers to some of the nation’s top-rated quarterbacks. One of which has already pledged his commitment to Ole Miss.
Jason Pellerin is a four-star rated dual-threat quarterback from New Iberia, Louisiana. He is rated as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports.com and No. 21 by Rivals.com. Pellerin stands in at 6ft. – 4in. and weights 210 lbs., which is the perfect model for a quarterback. He committed to Ole Miss back in June of last year, and at the time was relatively under the radar. Besides Ole Miss, Pellerin only held offers from California, Louisiana-Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Northwestern. His dream of playing in the SEC is inevitable as he shows no interests in the other schools. He is all Rebel. With the success of his senior season, there was talk of a late push by LSU, but Pellerin reassured an offer by the Tigers would have little affect to his commitment.
The Catholic-New Iberia High School prospect led the Panthers to a 9-3 record and to the state’s semi-finals his junior season. That year, Pellerin recorded 1,917 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, and 710 rushing yards. His senior season was even more impressive, as he led the Panthers to a Division III select state championship appearance. Even though Catholic-NI fell to Calvary Baptist, 27-24, Pellerin produced the stats that proved he has the right intangibles to have success at the college level.
This off-season will be one of the most exciting for the Rebel fan base in a long time. It maybe as equivalent to when in 2013 the program’s best recruiting class of all-time stepped foot on campus. The starting quarterback battle will be one of the most anticipated productions during the spring and fall. Rebel fans will be glued to social media to catch the latest progress from practice reports.
Looking past his off the field antics, Kelly presents a huge a future for the program. But understand, the future did not depend on Kelly. Without him, Freeze would have two former four-star prospects under his belt, and hungry for the starting role. So, I for one do not believe Kelly is a given for the starting role. If Kincade and/or Buchanan make huge strides this off-season with consistency, one of them could easily be the new leader. So, why go through all the trouble to get Kelly? Kelly has experience, and his stats clearly indicate he is an immediate impact player. Freeze knows he may only have one more season with the some of talented players of the 2013 class. Therefore, Kelly could add a greater possibility for Ole Miss to get into the College Football Playoff discussions again, and possible what many have longed for, a SEC Championship title.
Pellerin could very well be the future of Ole Miss, and we are talking like 2017 future. Kincade, Buchanan, and Kelly will not be around forever. So, you can’t wait on bringing in more future prospects. Pellerin is almost a given redshirt for the 2015 season. He will be able to show us his talents as early as spring practices, but don’t expect Freeze to waste a year of eligibility on him with the three potential starters he already has. But, it doesn’t end with Pellerin. Freeze also has former four-star dual threat quarterback of the 2014 class, Kendrick Doss in his back pocket. Doss will come into the 2015 season as a freshman with his redshirt lifted.