OXFORD, Miss. – One of the most prolific quarterbacks in Ole Miss history, Chad Kelly, tore up a knee and abruptly ended his career last November.
When Jason Pellerin did not win the brief quarterback competition to start the last three games of 2016, he was moved to tight end – or H-back or wide receiver – in the spring that followed.
The thinking was then that because of his athleticism, Pellerin, at 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, needed to be on the field somewhere.
Pellerin, though, has had trouble getting on the field.
As recently as mid-August, when starting tight end Dawson Knox went down with a foot injury, Ole Miss coach Matt Luke hinted that Pellerin’s role would expand.
Pellerin, though, has played little in the Rebels’ first two games and has yet to be targeted, much less catch a pass. What Ole Miss coaches are finding is that he’s a “tweener” – smaller than most of their tight ends and not as polished as its deep and talented group of wide receivers.
“He does a great job effort-wise,” offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “He’s really just been a victim of some great personnels in the two personnels he’s a hybrid between.”
Pellerin, a former three-star recruit, was rated among the top 15 dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2015 recruiting cycle.
As a redshirt freshman in 2016 Pellerin was effective in short-yardage and red zone packages. He was mostly a running quarterback and finished with 90 yards on 29 carries. He was 11-for-22 passing for 104 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
When Kelly was injured, true freshman Shea Patterson became the starter.
Longo believes he’ll find a way to use Pellerin. He just hasn’t identified that yet.
“I think as the season goes on you’ll see more of him,” Longo said. “Right now I couldn’t give you a specific role that he has outside of the tight end hybrid spot. He’s a great team player, and he understands his role. At some point you’ll see him. I don’t know when and where, but you will.”
(You can follow Parrish Alford on Twitter @parrishalford)
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