Kelly, Connor and Haynes on preseason lists

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Maxwell Football Club
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Three Ole Miss Rebels were named to watch lists for two of college football’s most prestigious honors Tuesday as announced by the Maxwell Football Club.

Senior quarterback Chad Kelly is one of 90 players on the preseason watch list for the 80th annual Maxwell Award, which has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937.

Meanwhile, senior defensive back Tony Conner and junior defensive end Marquis Haynes are two Rebels on the 90-man preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year every season since 1995.

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All three Rebels contributed to the team’s first 10-win season since 2003 as Ole Miss defeated the likes of Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State before taking down Oklahoma State in the 2016 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

After a breakout 2015 campaign, his first as a Rebel, Kelly enters his senior season as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Last year, he broke 14 single-season school records, including total offense (4,542 yards), completion percentage (65.1), passing efficiency (155.9), 300-yard passing games (8) and touchdowns responsible for (41). The Buffalo, New York, native’s offensive output was the third-highest in Southeastern Conference history, behind only the 2012 and 2013 seasons by Johnny Manziel. Completing 298 passes for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns, all program bests, Kelly became the third SEC quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season.

Conner is back for his senior season, ready to lead the Ole Miss secondary. After playing in every game during his first two years on campus, the Batesville, Mississippi, native was limited to five games last year due to injury. In 31 career games, Conner has racked up 152 tackles, including 18 tackles for loss. He is receiving preseason recognition for the fourth straight season, dating back to being a Freshman All-American in 2013.

Sack monster
With 17.5 sacks over his first two seasons at Ole Miss, Haynes already ranks tied for fourth in school history. The Jacksonville, Florida, native recorded 10 sacks in 2015, cracking the top five in the conference and ranking 19th nationally. Along with his sack total, Haynes tallied 16.5 tackles for loss and finished the season with 43 tackles. Throughout 2015, Haynes was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week three times en route to second team All-SEC honors at the conclusion of the regular season.

The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official. The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of ‘69 and the NFL Hall of Fame’s Class of ‘67.

Eli Manning is the only Rebel to have won the Maxwell Award. He received the honor in 2003.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced October 31, 2016, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 21, 2016.