5 Transfer Portal Landing Spots for Kiael Kelly: Georgia State, Illinois Options for the Ball State QB?

    After three years at Ball State, QB Kiael Kelly has entered the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining. Where will he suit up in 2024?

    Kiael Kelly redshirted his true freshman season and appeared in only one game in 2022. However, he started the last six games of 2023, going 3-3 after the team went 1-5 to begin the year. A dual-threat QB with sparse experience, Kelly’s landing spots are limited. Where will he play in 2024 and beyond?

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    Landing Spots for Kiael Kelly

    Ball State didn’t always put Kelly in a position to succeed as a passer, as he completed 66 of 124 attempts for 577 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Yet, he shined as a runner, taking 135 carries for 724 yards and seven scores. He can make defenses pay both on designed runs and scrambles, and he has the ability to make defenders miss in the field and churn an extra few yards after contact.

    Still, he has a long way to go as a passer, holding on to the ball for too long and turning pressures into sacks at a high rate due to a lack of pocket awareness. More live reps should improve his outlook, but Kelly needs to land with a team that will lean heavily on his legs.

    Jacksonville State Gamecocks

    Rich Rodriguez led Jacksonville State to a 9-4 record and a New Orleans Bowl win in the team’s first season in the FBS. Starting QB Zion Webb is off to the NFL, leaving Logan Smothers as the presumed starter.

    The former Nebraska QB flashed when on the field last season, but Kelly is an electric athlete who fits Rodriguez’s offense well. He can pick up where Webb left off, but the Gamecocks’ interest will come down to how they feel their QB competition is going.

    Florida A&M Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

    Kelly doesn’t have a lot of options to choose from if he wants to play in his home state of Florida. However, Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman offer him that opportunity with little in the way of competition at the position. Of course, both are a step down to the FCS, but their long-storied HBCU cultures could appeal to Kelly.

    Georgia State Panthers

    Darren Grainger’s reign of terror has come to an end in the Sun Belt, but Kelly can be similarly impactful — at least as a runner — early on. A battle with former Akron and Georgia Tech QB Zach Gibson should bring out Kelly’s best, and his tools give him a leg up.

    Illinois Fighting Illini

    Bret Bielema recruited Kelly in the 2021 class before he ultimately chose Ball State. Perhaps the head coach still sees potential in the QB and adds him to the roster to challenge incumbent starter Luke Altmeyer for the starting job. While also a rushing threat, he isn’t on the same level as Kelly and left some to be desired as a passer last season.

    New Mexico State Aggies

    Jerry Kill stepped in and instantly pulled the Aggies out of the gutter, producing 7-6 and 10-5 campaigns after four straight seasons with three or fewer wins.

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    However, he and star QB Diego Pavia left for Vanderbilt in the SEC, leaving a giant question mark under center for new HC Tony Sanchez to answer. As the WRs coach under Kill, Sanchez should run a similar offensive system, which is perfect for Kelly’s rushing ability.

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