Ex-Red Lion player Kelly says he's best QB in nation

Steve Heiser
  • Ex-Red Lion quarterback Chad Kelly threw for more than 4,000 yards last season.
  • He's considered a serious contender for the 2016 Heisman Trophy.
  • Kelly is the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.

You can say a lot of things about former Red Lion High School quarterback Chad Kelly.

He's got tremendous athleticism. He's got a rocket for an arm. And he's a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly speaks to the media at Southeastern Conference Media Days on Thursday.

One thing you can't say about him, however, is that he's bashful.

Kelly proved that again on Thursday when he stole the spotlight on the fourth-and-final day of Southeastern Conference Media Days.

The Mississippi senior, when asked if he was the best quarterback in the SEC, responded confidently: "I'm the best quarterback in the nation."

Later, in a response to a follow-up question, Kelly said: "You have to feel that way. In order to have confidence in yourself and team, you have to think you're the best. That's what I want our whole team — from offensive linemen to running backs — we have to think we're the best players and the best team out there. I want to be remembered as the greatest quarterback that ever played."

Kelly later took a thinly veiled shot at his former school, Clemson, where he began his college career before being booted off the team in the spring of 2014 by coach Dabo Swinney. At the time, Swinney said Kelly exhibited "a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program."

Thursday, Kelly was asked about playing at Louisiana State, a program that tried to recruit him at one time.

"I'm excited to get down there to the real Death Valley," he said. "I'm anxious to get out there and play."

A reporter then asked him: "You said the real Death Valley?"

"The real Death Valley, yes sir," Kelly replied. "The real Death Valley with 100,000 people. Yes sir."

Clemson's home field is often referred to as Death Valley.

Kelly has suffered through a troubled career off the field. The nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was kicked off the Red Lion High team as both a freshman and a sophomore before transferring to a high school in the Buffalo area, where he became a high school All-American. That earned him a scholarship to Clemson, before he ran into problems there.

After a season at junior college in Mississippi, Kelly earned a scholarship to Ole Miss. That scholarship, however, was put into question after his arrest in Buffalo three days after he signed his Ole Miss letter of intent. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, however, held fast on his commitment to Kelly and it paid off in a big way last season, when Kelly threw for 4.092 yards and 31 touchdowns en route to leading the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory. Ole Miss finished 10-3.

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly out after sports hernia surgery

After the season, there was speculation that Kelly might turn pro, but he decided to return for his senior season. He's considered a Heisman Trophy contender this season.

“We’ve had a lot of success, but we’ve just got to build on it,” Kelly said. “In order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”

Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.