The quarterback position: Moving on without Kincade, Buchanan

Not too long ago quarterback seemed like a crowded position for Ole Miss. As is often the case, things have a way of sorting themselves out, and that’s what’s happened here.

Last fall with Shea Patterson already committed there was the potential to have five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.

I suspect few believed it would end up that way.

DeVante Kincade announced before the Sugar Bowl that he would transfer. Now Ryan Buchanan has announced that he will give up football.

Neither of these decisions were easy, I’m sure, but it all comes back to one thing. Players want to play.

It’s been little more than a year since both Kincade and Buchanan were thrust into action in the rain and cold at Arkansas after Bo Wallace was hurt early in the game.

They were redshirt freshmen then but were considered the future of the position. Neither excelled in difficult circumstances in Fayetteville. That didn’t necessarily work against them in their quest to climb the ladder, but it didn’t work for them.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, in spite of having two rising third-year sophomores on the roster, felt it advantageous to sign a junior college quarterback for the 2015 season, and it’s a good thing he did.

Knowing what we know now – in fact what we learned before the mid-way point of the season – it seems a stretch to think that the three-way competition between Buchanan, Kincade and Chad Kelly was very taxing for Kelly.

All three got game action at the beginning of the season, but Buchanan and Kincade quickly drifted out of contention.

I thought Kincade might keep a role as a running quarterback. I knew that was part of Kelly’s background, but we weren’t seeing much of that from him – and didn’t until the last five games. Seeing how Kelly played at the end of the year it’s understandable that Freeze would be reluctant to take the ball out of his hands.

Kincade appeared in only three games last year. Buchanan played in 13, but most of that was as the holder for placement kicks.

With Kelly entrenched as the starter – there would be no competition coming in the spring and summer – and with Patterson committed Kincade and Buchanan accurately assessed their place in the mix.

Kincade has transferred to Grambling in order to be closer to his Dallas home where his mother has health concerns.

Buchanan told The Ole Miss Spirit he gave brief consideration to transferring to continue playing football. Ultimately he felt that he wanted to remain at Ole Miss as a student, that his passion for the commitment to putting in the required work would not be the same at another school.

Kudos to Buchanan. A lot of guys would have transferred, because football is all they’ve known, all they’ve done.

The college years can be quite rewarding as a member of the general population. Ryan Buchanan will experience that at Ole Miss.

So suddenly the crowded quarterback position has thinned considerably and has become far less experienced.

Ole Miss doesn’t have a scholarship quarterback with game experience behind Kelly.

Patterson may very well be the future of the program, but he’s just a freshman for the present.

I am a big fan of redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin. He’s extremely athletic, and had things worked out differently I’d thought about Pellerin as a possible candidate at linebacker or another position where there are depth issues. At 6-foot-4, 229 he’s got the build, but to make that move right now would leave Ole Miss with only Kelly, Patterson and senior walk-on Drew Davis at quarterback.

A walk-on will likely jump aboard at some point, but the position is too thin right now to subtract Pellerin.

It will be interesting to see how Freeze handles Patterson, whether he plays or redshirts. Most guys who are top five recruits don’t sign up for college thinking they will stay four years.

The absence of Kincade and Buchanan won’t be noticed if Kelly stays healthy. It certainly leaves the Rebels with a soft spot at the backup position, at least for the early part of the season.

Ultimately, that’s not reason enough for them to remain the program.

Players need to play, if that’s what they want, or to find success in other pursuits. Good luck to both.

 

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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