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Chad Kelly provides needed drama

| Wednesday, September 23, 2015

As college football settles into its first month of the 2015 season, some fans might be getting the irritating feeling something has been missing over the course of the first three weeks. More specifically, with former Heisman Trophy winner Jamies Winston now playing on Sundays, the never-ending saga of controversy that defined his college career — as much as his actual athletic performance — is noticeably absent from weekly college football discussions.

While it has been extremely refreshing to see college football headlined by articles mainly about football this year, I know many fans out there are probably feeling lost (or at least ESPN would think so) without the drama and immaturity Winston and his predecessor, Johnny Manziel, brought to the table on a weekly basis. Thankfully, for those drama enthusiasts, there might just be a new candidate to follow in their footsteps developing in front of our eyes: Ole Miss junior quarterback Chad Kelly. Coming off one of Ole Miss’ biggest wins in school history on the road against Alabama on Saturday, Kelly seems poised more than anyone to take over the position of the childish headline-generating-quarterback that has dominated the sport for the last half-decade.

Kelly’s collegiate career story has so far been an entertaining one, to say the least. A top prospect out of high school, Kelly originally wound up at Clemson, where he infamously announced to the Twitter world his depth chart position before stepping foot on the practice field. He was eventually kicked off the team after an argument in spring practice that culminated with him being escorted away by university police.

Kelly responded to the Clemson fallout by becoming a national champion — in junior college, that is. However, his performance at East Mississippi gave several high profile schools the confidence to award him a second chance, which is how he ended up at Ole Miss. Unfortunately, within months of his return to Division I, Kelly got into a scuffle that resulted in another arrest and charges of, among other things, assault and harassment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ole Miss gave Kelly a second, second chance, and he finally made his first Division I appearance in early September.

Before even taking a snap this fall, Kelly had mastered the art of immaturity Winston and Manziel have made look way too easy in recent years. But in order for him to reach their overall level, he must combine that with impressive on-field performances. While it might be a little far-fetched to give him the Heisman right now, Kelly’s numbers through three games have been undeniably impressive, headlined by his nine touchdowns, compared to just one interception, and quarterback rating of 205.7. Though Ole Miss’ first two of three contests were against inferior opponents, beating Alabama on the road defines a quality win in college football’s current landscape.

On paper, Kelly is the perfect candidate to replace Manziel and Winston’s previous headlines in the coming weeks (and years). Quarterback on a top-10 team? Check. Owner of a continuous amount of head-scratching moments that can only lead us to believe there will be more such moments to come? Check. Beat Alabama on the road thanks, in part, to a fluky and ridiculous touchdown pass that will never be duplicated? Check. And while Johnny Manziel gets rap songs written about him, Chad Kelly writes them about himself. It also certainly does not hurt headlines that Kelly is the nephew of all-time great quarterback Jim Kelly.

Of course, I really hope I am wrong about Kelly. Hopefully, his success at Ole Miss can coincide with an ability to change his character and avoid trouble in the future. Or, as an alternative, maybe he or Ole Miss just will not end up being good enough to warrant excessive media coverage (i.e., maybe the college football gods will finally give us a break). Nonetheless, for those seeking out the unnecessary drama that has suddenly evaporated from college football, your best bet moving forward has to be Kelly. While the defense ain’t seeing him, as he so eloquently raps on instant-classic, ‘Chad Kelly,’ I ask that all college football fans brace themselves to see a lot of him moving forward.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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