Former Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly named CFL’s Most Outstanding Player
Former Ole Miss and current Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly has been named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player after a record-setting first season as a starter.
The award was voted on by the Football Reporters of Canada and the nine head coaches in the CFL. Kelly was honored Thursday evening at the CFL awards banquet.
— Toronto Argonauts (@TorontoArgos) November 17, 2023
Kelly received the George Reed Most Outstanding Player Award, which the CFL named after the former Saskatchewan Roughriders’ star who died last month at age 83.
The 29-year-old Kelly was central to the Argos’ 16-2 record, which tied the CFL record for most regular-season victories while establishing a franchise best in that category.
Kelly won 15 of 16 starts, and that 93.8 win percentage is the best in league history by a player with at least 14 starts. On the season, he completed 270 of 394 passes (68.5 per cent) for 4,123 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Kelly, also named a CFL All-Star, ran for 248 yards and eight TDs — tied for second-most in the CFL — on 40 carries (6.2-yard average).
With Kelly at the helm of the Argos, Toronto finished second overall in offensive points (29.3 per game), offensive TDs (56) and net yards (377.8) while allowing a league-low 19 sacks.
Kelly and his teammates’ season came to an end with a 38-17 loss to the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division final.
The Kelly File
At Ole Miss: Chad Kelly set 25 school records (game, season, career) over his 22-game career in Oxford. He owns the school record with 22 consecutive games with a passing touchdown. His 12 career 300-yard passing games are the most in school history. He started all 22 games as a Rebel and finished his career ranked top 10 in school history in career passing yards (3rd), pass attempts (7th), completions (4th), passing TDs (3rd), total offense (3rd) and TDs responsible for (3rd).
He also won MVP honors in the 2016 All-State Sugar Bowl, as he led Ole Miss to a 48-20 victory over Oklahoma State and a No. 10 final national ranking. He threw for 6,800 yards and 65 total touchdowns in a two-year career at Ole Miss. Kelly then went on to become 2017’s “Mr. Irrelevant” when he was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 2017 NFL Draft with the last pick.
As a Pro: After being out of professional football for more than a year, Kelly signed a CFL contract with the Toronto Argonauts in the 2022 offseason and spent the 2022 season as the Argos’ backup quarterback. He played very sparingly.
He made one start in the final week of the 2022 season before going back to his backup role for the playoffs. But as fate would have it, in the fourth quarter of the Grey Cup with the Argos trailing 23-17, Kelly got his opportunity to remind folks just how good he is.
An injury to starting quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson opened the door and Kelly literally ran — and passed — through it. He led Toronto on a game-winning drive, to a Grey Cup championship.
“It was life-changing, honestly,” Kelly said later.
Bethel-Thompson left in the offseason to return to the United States, and the Argos had their quarterback in Kelly.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.