The Shea Patterson era wasn’t scheduled to begin until 2017, but the future of the Ole Miss quarterback position got underway early on Saturday night in College Station. As reports have indicated for the last few days, the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country indeed started for the Rebels against Texas A&M.
It was redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin who came on against Georgia Southern after Chad Kelly suffered a season-ending knee injury, but Pellerin simply doesn’t have the same talent level as Patterson, who Freeze earlier this week called “one of the most complete quarterbacks that I have seen as a freshman.”
On one hand, this burns a year of eligibility for a potential program-carrying quarterback. But as talented as Patterson is, there’s no guarantee that he’d stick around for a fifth year anyway.
"I can't foresee what's going to happen that far down the road,” Freeze said earlier this week when asked how long he expects Patterson to be in Oxford. “You never know how things are going to play out over three, four or five years. That really doesn't play into it for me.”
With its back against the wall needing to win two of its last three games to become bowl eligible, Ole Miss has a major incentive to win now. There’s also something to be said of momentum, particularly as it pertains to recruiting—a six-win season becomes a lot more exciting if the quarterback of the future leads the rally.