Since the year 2000, Ole Miss football has propelled to Cotton Bowl relevance, stumbled into a valley of 12 consecutive conference losses and climbed back to a Sugar Bowl champion mountaintop before descending back to mediocrity as the result of an almost decade-long NCAA investigation. The inconsistent rise and fall of the Rebels has been loaded with early-round draft picks and NFL sleepers, but in many years, the on-field results did not follow suit.
One continued theme throughout the past 20 years is a revolving door of uniquely different quarterbacks that each bring a specific skill set to the gridiron. We took a look back at this century’s signal-callers and used individual attributes from some of the Rebel greats to create the perfect quarterback.
Here’s why we chose each feature:
Eli Manning’s Decision Making
The first son from the first family of football was as good as you could get under center during his time at Ole Miss. But, he seemed to be at his best when he was under pressure or the game was on the line (unless Doug Buckles steps on him).
The jokes write themselves with his aloof demeanor and facial expressions, but the dude was an assassin with the football in crunch time. Manning set or tied 45 single-game, season, and career records and finished his career with 10,119 passing yards (fifth on the SEC career list), 81 touchdown passes (third on the SEC career list), and a passer rating of 137.7 (tied for sixth on the SEC career list).
But the youngest Manning makes up the brain of our perfect quarterback because of what was between the ears. He was a walking stereotype “coach on the field” type to a T. He knew exactly what needed to happen and he knew exactly what you were going to do to try and stop him.
The 2003 Ole Miss team is absolutely not a 10-win Cotton Bowl Champion team without No. 10 calling the shots.
Matt Corral’s Grit
After a tumultuous season for Matt Corral, he remains in the mix for the starting nod under new head coach Lane Kiffin in 2020. While his sophomore campaign was hindered by injury and indecisive coaching, the rising redshirt sophomore gunslinger has won games as a starter and brings a steel backbone to the field.
Over the course of his young career, he has not shied away from contact when trouble strikes and fights for every yard. In his first collegiate appearance, Corral came in late to replace Jordan Ta’amu and quickly lowered his shoulder to find the end zone.
Two games into 2019, Corral completed two-thirds of his attempts for 246 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas. No. 2 stood in the pocket, delivered a perfect strike to Elijah Moore and proceeded to get licked. He’s not afraid to sacrifice the body.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the (since overshadowed) Egg Bowl of 2018. When a brawl broke out to end the third quarter, Corral was on the front lines, throwing haymakers for his boys.
The perfect Ole Miss quarterback dons the Golden State gunslinger’s signature war paint to let his opponents know that fear isn’t a word in his vocabulary.
Bo Wallace’s Swagger
From his once ever-flowing hair, to leaving the field before the clock struck zero in Baton Rouge, Bo Wallace oozes confidence that borders on arrogance.
Over the course of his three seasons in Oxford, Wallace averaged over 3,000 yards passing and 20 touchdowns each year. In perfect “f*ck it, chuck it” quarterback fashion, he added a total of 41 interceptions and talked smack like a hall of famer. What keeps him level is his 2014 season when he lead Ole Miss to its first-ever New Year’s Six bowl game, highlighted by upsetting No. 1 Alabama and being carried off of the field in glory.
When Dr. Bo wanted something, he believed in himself to get it done.
There was no first down too small, or goal line too far.
Even in the heartbreaking defeat against Mississippi State in 2013, there was no other choice than to put the ball in his hands. Bo just sends it.
Wallace’s golden locks flow from our perfect quarterback’s helmet because what is football without a beautiful confidence that never wavers.
Chad Kelly’s Arm Strength
Chad Kelly is arguably the best quarterback to ever play at Ole Miss, but never quite kept his off-field antics in check to be able to reach his ceiling on the next level. However, his raw talent is undeniable. During his only full season in Oxford, the cannon-armed bad boy of the NCAA completed 65.1 percent of his passes for over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns. That 2015 season, Kelly had eight 300-yard passing games. When you really dive into the numbers, it might be the most productive season in Southeastern Conference history.
You guys ever see the ESPN Sport Science when Chad Kelly put up the highest score of any QB they've ever tested? pic.twitter.com/OayGTux3Hl— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) August 23, 2018
Swag could rip it, and had one of the softest back-shoulder throws to ever grace the FBS.
Kelly always identified his receiver and zipped it through traffic.
Not only can he put the ball in the bread-basket, he can huck it.
His deep ball is just so beautiful.
The perfect Ole Miss quarterback would not be complete without Kelly’s right arm rocket, and his FEAR NONE tattoo. If a receiver gets a step on his defender, he’ll find him.
Jordan Ta’amu’s Accuracy
After Shea Patterson went down with a knee injury, Jordan Ta’amu took over under center and dazed defenses with his ability to drop dimes. The New Mexico Military Institute transfer threw for 5,600 yards in just 19 games, averaged more than 9.5 yards per attempt over the course of his career, and completed an extremely accurate 64.7% of his passes. He inherited a loaded offense of NFL talent receiving targets, and always put the ball right where it needed to be.
Even on the move, Ta’amu placed the pigskin in the one spot that the corner couldn’t get it.
Whether his guys were in space or covered, he put it right in the open window.
Oh, and he’s doing it on the next level.
The precision passes that came out of the Throwin’ Samoan’s hands is a feature that we could not leave off of the perfect quarterback.
Jevan Snead’s Physique
At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Jevan Snead was built like you want a quarterback to be built. The former top-100 player in the 2006 class was already pushing 205-pounds in the hallways of Stephenville High School and if it weren’t for some guy named Matthew Stafford, he would’ve had a state title ring to go with his torso.
Even though the lettuce left a lot to be desired, the physique was wanted by just about everyone out of high school, choosing the home state Longhorns over Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M.
Tim Tebow and Demetrius Jones were the only dual-threat quarterbacks ranked ahead of him on Rivals and despite only rushing for 161 yards in two years in Oxford, he scooted for six touchdowns. The ability to extend plays with his legs was made possible by his overall strength in the pocket and ability to shed would-be tacklers.
He could also throw a deep ball or two.
The late Snead was a joy to watch when he was clicking and his stature has earned its place here and then some.
Jeremiah Masoli’s Power
What more can you say about our Transfer Son? The guy led an abysmal 2010 Ole Miss team to four wins, mostly by way of his meaty thighs carrying the Rebels. On the road against LSU, Jeremiah Masoli threw for 177 and a touchdown while also running for 64 yards and two more touchdowns.
But Masoli is here in this Monster Factory for his power. He had that in spades.
Masoli ran for 544 yards and six touchdowns in his lone season in the red and blue. But when he toted the rock, he wasn’t tip-toeing out of bounds, he was looking to punish someone. The former City College of San Francisco Oregon signee was a handful in the open field with his elusiveness and a powerful stiff arm and a powerful leg drive that accompanied him.
Offensive coordinator Dave Rader utilized Masoli a ton in short-yardage and goal line scenarios, working as a primary ball carrier and a decoy with Brandon Bolden and Jeff Scott flanking him in the backfield in their dive option offense.
In his two years at Oregon, Jeremiah ran for 1,386 yards and 23 touchdowns, helping the Ducks to back-to-back 10-win seasons, a Holiday Bowl victory, and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Romaro Miller’s Athleticism
The guy before Eli Manning was no slouch. The former top-10 prospect from Shannon, Miss. chose the Rebels over Alabama and essentially started a wave of in-state prospects, convincing the likes of Terrence Metcalf and Deuce McAllister to join him in Oxford.
As a Rebel, Miller did a little bit of everything. And despite all of the records he set that were broken soon after by Manning, he finished his career with 6,513 yards and 45 touchdowns. That includes three-straight seasons with 2000+ yards passing and 11 or more touchdowns. As far as running the ball goes, he didn’t have a ton of yards, but that’s mostly because David Cutcliffe’s offense didn’t call for that.
But, he was elusive and cunning in the pocket, avoiding the rush, extending plays, and even flashing some soft hands in the clutch.
.@dmcallister26 ➡️ @RomaroMiller with a little trickery for the TD on a 20-yard throwback pass against Mississippi State in 2000.— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) August 11, 2019
Just 20 days until we kick off the 2019 season.
https://t.co/fgqdUGyiTr | #HottyToddy pic.twitter.com/ymXFmFZiRf
Sure we could’ve gone with Plumlee here, but Miller was an athlete who just so happened to be a talented signal caller as well.
John Rhys Plumlee’s Playmaking
Yes, we know, the arm needs some work, but HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE HIM IN 2019?!?!
The guy was a highlight reel waiting to happen last season, throwing for 910 yards and four touchdowns and running for another 1,023 yards and 12 more touchdowns.
Roll the beautiful JRP bean footage!
He burst on the scene when Corral went down with a shoulder injury against Cal and never looked back. Plumlee ran for 90 or more yards in six of the next eight games, forcing 39 missed tackles, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt, and 3.61 yards after contact per attempt.
So, yeah, he makes plays.
He easily smashed the single-game rushing record for an Ole Miss quarterback, surpassing Norris Weese’s 178 yards set against Mississippi State in 1972 by running for 212 against the No. 1-ranked Tigers.
The Hattiesburg, Miss. native was the first quarterback to rush for at least 200 yards against the AP No. 1 team since Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl vs. USC 15 years ago. He was also the first Rebel to run for four touchdowns since Dexter McCluster did it in 2009 against Tennessee.
It’s unclear what he will do in Lane Kiffin’s offense, but one thing is for sure, whether it is at quarterback, running back, or wide receiver, the dude is going to put pressure on you and will be a tough guy to bring down in the open field because of his world class speed.
How would you craft your perfect Ole Miss quarterback specimen boy? Tell us in the comments below! Happy Monster Factory’n!!