First-year Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has been named one of 12 finalists for the 2015 Manning Award, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced Wednesday.
The Manning Award, which is presented annually to college football’s best quarterback, was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Ole Miss legends Archie and Eli Manning, as well as Eli’s brother, Peyton. It is the only quarterback award that takes the candidates’ bowl performances into consideration in its balloting.
Kelly is the first Rebel to be named a finalist for the Manning Award in its 12-year history. The junior college transfer from Buffalo, New York, is the Southeastern Conference leader in passing (311.7 yards per game), total offense (347.3 yards per game) and points responsible for (222), ranking top 10 in the nation in all three. He has already broken school records for total offense (4,167), passing yards (3,740), touchdowns responsible for (37) and 300-yard passing games (7), all of them formerly held by Archie and/or Eli Manning. Kelly is on pace to break as many as 10 more Ole Miss individual single-season marks.
Kelly’s team-high 10 rushing touchdowns are the most by an Ole Miss quarterback since Archie had 14 in 1969.
The sixth SEC player to accumulate 4,000 total yards in a season, Kelly is the first Ole Miss signal-caller to ever lead the Rebels to wins over Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season. The nephew of Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly also directed Ole Miss to its first win in Starkville since 2003 and its most points vs. Alabama, LSU or Mississippi State in quite some time.
“I am very pleased with this outstanding group that was selected as our finalists,” Archie Manning said. “I appreciate the time and expertise of our voting panel who made the effort to get us to these final 12. The skills and accomplishments of some very impressive young men who didn’t make the finalist list shows just how competitive it is to be selected. Now we get to see how these guys do on an even bigger stage – conference championship games and bowl games.”
In its first 11 years, the Manning Award has recognized the top names in college football. It has honored quarterbacks from 10 different schools and from four different conferences. One of the more unique aspects of the Manning Award is the fact that it takes into account the quarterbacks bowl performances, in addition to the regular season. Ten of the 11 Manning Award winners won bowl games during the season they won the honor; the lone loss was by Colt McCoy in the 2010 BCS Championship game when he suffered an early injury. In addition to McCoy, six other Manning honorees (Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota) led their teams to the national championship game (BCS or CFP).
All of the Manning Award winners follow in the footsteps of the Mannings themselves. In college, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning combined for over 25,000 passing yards and 201 touchdowns while playing in 10 bowl games and earning four bowl MVP awards. Archie was the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, while both Peyton and Eli were selected No. 1 overall.
2015 Manning Award Finalists:
Brandon Allen, Sr., Arkansas
Trevone Boykin, Sr., TCU
Connor Cook, Sr., Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, Sr., Western Kentucky
Kevin Hogan, Sr., Stanford
Chad Kelly, Jr., Ole Miss
Paxton Lynch, Jr., Memphis
Baker Mayfield, Jr., Oklahoma
Dak Prescott, Sr., Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Sr., Navy
Greg Ward Jr., Jr., Houston
Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson
Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics