The Ole Miss quarterback picture for 2016 has thinned by one.
I wrote a while back about the unusual situation facing the Rebels in the coming season with five scholarship quarterbacks.
The first shake-up to that came Monday night when DeVante Kincade announced through social media his plans to transfer.
Kincade, who had a brother die unexpectedly in October, wrote glowingly about his time at Ole Miss but said he will seek to transfer closer to his Dallas, Texas home.
Kincade and Ryan Buchanan, both third-year sophomores, were two-thirds of the competition for the starting job in the spring and August camp. Junior college transfer Chad Kelly won the job and should be All-SEC first team soon. I say should. He’s the best choice. We’ll have to see if he survives the vote.
Even without family concerns Kincade seemed a candidate to transfer. A member of Hugh Freeze’s celebrated 2013 Ole Miss signing class, he was well thought of in recruiting circles, a four-star prospect and rated the No. 12 dual threat quarterback in the country by ESPN.
Kincade was also a hit with Ole Miss fans, often interacting through Twitter and the like.
He recently had a faith conversion experience and wrote about that in an Instagram post saying he “found Christ here at Ole Miss, by far the best achievement of my life.”
Because it seemed the off-the-field experience was going so well for Kincade I had the thought that he may not transfer but seek a position change. That won’t be the case now.
Players want to play, and Kincade will likely find that opportunity at another school.
This season he appeared in only three games and was 9-for-15 passing for 79 yards and a touchdown.
There were times in 2014 that Freeze seemed to be trying to work in Kincade as an athletic change of pace at the position, similar to the way he used Barry Brunetti behind Bo Wallace in 2012 and 2013. That role never caught on for Kincade.
So what does Kincade’s news mean to the quarterback position at Ole Miss?
Honestly, it doesn’t mean as much now as it would have in August. Back in the summer Freeze thought he had a solid player in Kelly, but Kelly had a lot to prove, not only on the field but off. His behavior at Clemson and his arrest last December have been well-documented. Kelly had to become as focused off the field as he was on it, and he’s done that. He’s pushed all the right buttons and has had a fantastic year.
But these are things you didn’t know back in August. Transfer news for Kincade then would have cast a different light on the quarterback race and perhaps on how freshman Jason Pellerin was used. As it played out, Pellerin was able to redshirt.
Now, if Shea Patterson, the nation’s No. 1 rated quarterback, follows through on his commitment and signs with Ole Miss this month, the Rebels will have four scholarship quarterbacks.
Still a good number. Plus there’s experience behind Kelly in Ryan Buchanan and intriguing ability in Pellerin.
There’s been recent news of another Alabama push for Patterson, and in an October piece written by Fox Sports Patterson did not deny interest in Alabama. He also described his himself as solidly with Ole Miss.
It’s recruiting folks. Anything can happen, but at this point it looks like Patterson will be with Ole Miss.
If Patterson is the talent he appears to be he’ll likely not redshirt. Most players so highly rated think of the college experience in terms of three years not four. Ole Miss fans are seeing this play out now with Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche.
Kelly may give the NFL some thought – It’s in his blood with his Hall of Fame Uncle Jim – but Freeze is confident Kelly will return for a senior season.
He needs to return. He’s been good the entire season but really great for just half and can use a larger body of work.
Assuming Kelly comes back and Patterson comes aboard it’s a great situation for Ole Miss next year with the potential for Kelly to start and for Patterson to play, gain some experience and take the job as a sophomore with snaps under his belt.
If that scenario plays out it will be interesting to see if Freeze tries to get Pellerin on the field at another position.
Rivals rated Pellerin as the nation’s No. 21 dual threat quarterback in the 2015 signing class. Pellerin also played basketball and baseball in high school. Kelly described him a few weeks ago as having a big arm. He’s 6-4, 229 and athletic and can likely help this team.