Chad Kelly confirmed what most assumed on Monday, announcing through Jim Kelly Inc. that he plans to return to Ole Miss for his senior season.
"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," Kelly said in the statement, according to the Buffalo News. "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."
He continued: "As a Kelly, I've been fortunate to grow up with a tight knit family. Coach (Hugh) 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. Our goal this year is to win the SEC West and to compete for a National Championship."
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Kelly is fresh off of a Sugar Bowl MVP performance.
As a junior, Kelly, who won a championship at East Mississippi before transferring to Ole Miss last January, was one of the most productive quarterbacks in the conference. He completed 65 percent of his passes for a league-best 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns with 13 interceptions (which were second-highest in SEC). He also rushed for 500 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Retaining Kelly is a big step in the right direction for a Rebels squad that hopes to remain atop the SEC. Earlier this offseason, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and receiver Laquon Treadwell all declared early for the NFL draft. Tight end Evan Engram and safety Tony Conner both have announced their intentions to return to Oxford for their senior seasons.
One wrinkle in Kelly's decision is how it impacts start in-coming freshman Shea Patterson.
The IMG Academy product was just named the U.S. Army All-American Bowl MVP after completing 6 of 90 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 35-yard flea flicker.
Considered the top quarterback in the country by Rivals.com, it's likely the Rebels find a way to get Patterson involved in the offense early rather than redshirting the talented signal caller and potentially only getting two years of him on the field before he declares early for the NFL draft.