Although Chad Kelly is returning for Ole Miss, there was still plenty of competition at quarterback this spring.
However, the battle was for the backup job between redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin and true freshman Shea Patterson, who really impressed coach Hugh Freeze with his play throughout the spring.
“I said in recruiting I thought he was the most college-ready quarterback I’d seen in my short college career,” Freeze told reporters Saturday. “His mechanics are really good, he understands the game. He’s fearless, confident.”
Patterson and Pellerin also got the benefit of having extra snaps with the first team during the last couple weeks of practice, because Kelly was sidelined after surgically repairing a sports hernia.
The extra reps were undoubtedly beneficial to the young signal-caller, but as is the case with all inexperienced quarterbacks, there were some struggles for the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the Class of 2016, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
“He had a learning curve,” Freeze said. “Those first two weeks, he got a thousand different looks coming at him and different terminology and you’ve got to set the protection this way or that way. First couple of weeks, it was ‘How are you going to handle the struggles?’ He’s not used do struggling a whole lot.
“The learning curve I saw from week two to the end, I was extremely impressed. Probably more impressed than I thought I would be.”
Despite the high praise, Freeze isn’t ready to give him the edge in the race to be Rebels’ backup.
Pellerin also did some good things this spring, and Freeze still hasn’t decided whether or not Patterson will be redshirted or not.
“You don’t want to put him in a position where he plays 10 plays and that’s his season,” Freeze said. “At the same time, you’ve got to think about the new world we live in. There’s a lot of three-and-dones and all of those things. You just don’t know. We’ll communicate all the way through with him and his family and see how it goes.”
No matter what decision is made, between Kelly and Patterson, the Rebels should have strong quarterback play over the next few seasons.