A look at position battles as the Rebels get under way next week …
The question: Is this really a battle? I say yes.
I’ll call Chad Kelly the heavy favorite here. I think he wins the job.
I also know it won’t be handed to him. Hugh Freeze will make sure he treats Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade with all fairness.
Kelly has a nice history of recruiting coverage. He’s accomplished a lot at other levels. Certainly Freeze has evaluated him as someone he needs to help the Rebels reach their potential. At the signing day presser Freeze spoke very frankly about the risk he’s taking by inviting Kelly to be part of the program.
That risk applies to Kelly’s off-the-field baggage. On the field this spring Freeze will evaluate practice tape on Kelly for the first time.
To this point he’s evaluated Kelly through video and word of mouth. He’s not had Kelly for 2 1-2 hour workouts or in meeting rooms.
So for all that he thinks he knows about Chad Kelly right now there’s a whole lot left to learn in the month of March.
Buchanan and Kincade have been through two fall camps and a spring. Freeze has evaluated these guys a lot more.
They have not impressed him enough to make him think he could pass on Kelly and Kelly’s history.
That doesn’t mean they won’t. Some guys bloom late. The door shouldn’t be closed on Buchanan or Kincade.
Maybe Kelly wins the job, but there aren’t many degrees of separation – injury or off-field issues are the circumstances that come to mind – before one of them is on the field and playing crucial downs for this team.
If Kelly wins the job Freeze has to continue to invest in Buchanan and Kincade and help them understand their value to the program. One of them would be the next man up.
If Kelly doesn’t win the job Freeze will face his greatest challenge in keeping Kelly focused and out of trouble.