Chad Kelly and Rebels working hard in offseason for continued success
OXFORD – During practices thus far this spring, Chad Kelly continues to lead his team in both his words and actions, and the Ole Miss senior quarterback hopes everyone else feeds off his energy and vision.
When Kelly returned to practice this week—following his mission work in Haiti with other members of the Ole Miss team and staff—the quarterback joked and laughed with some of the offensive linemen while stretching for the first 15 minutes.
Then it was time to get down to business and orchestrate some plays with the familiar faces on the team as well as the new kids on the block.
After each whistle blew, Kelly quickly strapped up his helmet and went into the huddle, demanding everyone’s attention to “win the day,” a phrase head football coach Hugh Freeze has drilled into his players since the coach’s arrival in Oxford late 2011.
Chad Kelly obviously understands the phrase. His commitment and drive earned the respect of his offensive teammates and helped lead them to last year’s Sugar Bowl winning season. His command is even better this season, compared to his first year in Oxford. He calls it ‘a better understanding’ of what the coaching staff expects out of him and the offense each time they step onto the field.
“I think everybody understands what the coaches are trying to get out of them,” Kelly said following Monday’s practice. “They’re understanding the game plan and exactly what they have to do. In order for us to succeed, we have to have all 11 players on the same page,” he added.
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss QB
Kelly: ‘You have to bring it in the offseason’
The offseason has been useful for Kelly, who admitted the team is far more advanced now than what it was a year ago during spring practices. When mistakes are made by his teammates, Kelly is the first one to quickly tell them to keep going and to do better at their next opportunity.
As the quarterback, Kelly feels he needs to be the vocal leader and make sure everyone is on the same page. “You have to bring it in the offseason; otherwise they’re going to come out here not looking at you,” Kelly said.
“You’ve got to start in the offseason. But when you’re out there, you start to hear more guys talking. From a quarterback’s perspective, that’s a great thing,” he explained.
Chad Kelly on the team feeding off one another
Leaders emerging; Swinney shining
Kelly has also been happy having the opportunity to play alongside running back Eric Swinney, who missed all of last season after suffering a stress fracture in his leg. Swinney was required to have surgery and was forced to redshirt. But since his return, he has been giving his teammates 100 percent and has been considered a tough back to bring down.
“I think he brings a little bit of everything,” Kelly said about the Tyrone, Georgia native. “He brings the whole thing. He’s not scared to lay his head down and run someone over, and at the same time, he’s not scared to juke someone. He understands the game plan.
“It’s going to take a little bit longer to kind of get the feel for the game, of course. But I think he’s picking it up really well right now.”
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)