As Alabama gets set to square off with Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game, one of the players who handed the former its only loss of the season — and played for the latter before being dismissed — will get another opportunity to knock off the Tide.
In a statement sent to the Buffalo News, Chad Kelly announced that he has decided he will not make himself available for the April NFL draft and will instead return to Ole Miss for his senior season. It has long been thought that Kelly, the nephew of former Miami Hurricane and Buffalo Bill great Jim Kelly, was leaning toward a return, although there was some doubt right up until the quarterback’s confirmation late this afternoon.
After serious discussion with my family and Coach Freeze, I wanted my friends and fans to know that I’ll be staying at Ole Miss for my senior year. I look forward to completing my degree and graduating from Ole Miss,” said Kelly. “We’ve lost a lot of starters, but we’re still deep in talent, and I’m excited to get back to work with Coach Freeze, Coach Werner and the rest of the team.
It feels great to be a part of a winning team for a school with such a rich history, but I realize that there’s still a lot of learning and growing that I can do with this team. It will take the hard work and commitment of everyone involved, but I believe that we have a committed coaching staff and some of the best players in college football. I can’t wait to see what we can do together in 2016.
“As a Kelly, I’ve been fortunate to grow up with a tight knit family. Coach Freeze and everyone here at Ole Miss have become a part of my family. We have the best students, the best staff, and just as importantly, the best fans in the country,” Kelly continued. “Our goal this year is to win the SEC west and to compete for a National Championship.
Kelly recently completed his first season with the Rebels after a winding and controversial start to a collegiate career that began at Clemson and continued on to the junior college ranks before settling in Oxford. In that first season, Kelly led the SEC and was second nationally with 4,042 passing yards, while his passing efficiency rating of 155.9 was second in the conference and 13th in the country.
Ole Miss put the finishing touches on a 10-win season with the football program’s first Sugar Bowl win since 1970. En route to that win, Kelly passed for 341 yards and scored four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in Ole Miss’ road upset of Alabama.