Wake up in a Bugatti, fell asleep in a dope house…

– Starlito, musician

Psst… I don’t know if you’ve heard, but former Auburn Tiger Omari ‘Free Lil Boosie’ Kelly is having a great spring. The reasons why will become abundantly clear by the end of this article. 

For now, indulge yourself in some of the quotes this offseason from MTSU coverage:

The Hewitt-Trussville Huskies product might not look like a physical presence at wide receiver. His listed measurements, 6’0″, 186 pounds, don’t jump off the page as someone that can dominate others on the perimeter. But watch one practice, one game, and you’ll see why Kelly has quickly found a role in the Blue Raider offense after transferring from Auburn this semester.
Whether it’s coming out of the slot to attack linebackers or safeties or taking care of the defensive back across from him on the edge, Kelly is relentless in helping his teammates with his blocks, a trait that wide receivers coach 
Cornelius Williams has quickly taken note of.
Highly recruited out of high school, Kelly was rated as a Top-30 athlete in the Class of 2022 and committed to Auburn in large part thanks to the recruiting efforts of Williams, who was on staff when Kelly committed to the Tigers verbally.
When Kelly then entered the transfer portal for his final two years of eligibility, it coincidentally coincided with Williams making his way to MTSU on 
Derek Mason‘s first staff. 
“If you watched his high school film, he was playing both sides of the ball,” Williams said. “He was doing that at a high level, he was doing it at the highest level. We knew from watching it he was getting tired, but he’s still making plays on both sides of the ball.
“As soon as he got in, I knew. And that was before I even got here.”
Kelly’s quickly risen up the depth chart this spring and has shown his natural ability in space along with a knack of finding it, all while being the embodiment of Mason’s Blue Collar, Physical, Tough and Intelligent branding around the football program. 

Williams said the wideout’s knowledge of the game has helped him better utilize those physical traits that made him a standout prospect as a prep athlete and continued work this summer on the nuances of the wide receiver game, nailing the detail work of route running and breaks, will help him continue to grow until fall camp kicks off.

Certainly, there’s a lot to like there. What’s even better is that MTSU returns what might actually be the best QB in CUSA this season via Nicholas Vattiato, and (as we’ll see in the next section) this is a staff with an intriguing background. Indeed, one could make the argument that this offense is like a supercar (Bugatti maybe?) ready to take off. 

Not every transfer works out for both parties involved, but it seems like Kelly—having left the dopehouse down there in Auburn (and I’m not speaking about drugs)—is going to benefit immensely in his new spot.

Coaching & System

WR1 PPG AVERAGE — HC: 12.5 — OC: 15.4 (half PPR)

Middle Tennessee as a program underwent a major facelift this offseason, cleaning house on staff and welcoming in a new regime. Among the new names are head coach Derek Mason and OC Bodie Reeder, who, between them, have a total of three seasons of play-calling experience since 2018, captured in Joe’s model. The good news is that the target shares under both of these coaches range from 21 to 29% over that time span. 

Put more precisely, Mason’s WR1 averaged 9.38 and 7.45 targets per game in 2018 and 2019 with Vanderbilt. Reeder’s averaged 9.42 in 2019 with North Texas. Some of you may remember the name Jaelon Darden, who had one of the most absurd seasons ever in 2020. Well, Darden had a pretty good 2019 too, he didn’t go over 1000 yards, but he did score 12 times on 76 receptions in 12 games (~18.46 PPG in full PPR). 

Below is a summary of the relevant stats for today’s discussion. As usual, ignore the projections.

Table 1.

My main takeaway is that whoever becomes WR1 under these guys is probably going to see at least seven targets per game. However, that sample includes only three seasons of play calling. 

Zooming out to a wider perspective, Mason joins MTSU after spending a season away from CFB in 2023 and one season as the DC at Oklahoma State in 2022. Before that, he was the DC for one season for Auburn in 2021. His longest stint as a coach was from 2014 to 2020 as the head coach of Vanderbilt. 

While he didn’t have any 1,000-yard receivers during his time at Vandy, I wouldn’t hold that against him too hard, given that Vandy generally struggles in-conference. Of note, Mason’s Commodores (miraculously) did support four 1,000-yard rushers in seven seasons, so keep that fact in the back of your mind.

As for Bodie Reeder, below is a summary of his coaching experience:

• 2010: Eastern Illinois (defensive graduate assistant)
• 2011-13: Wisconsin-Stout (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
• 2014-16: Oklahoma State (offensive quality control/asst. quarterbacks)
• 2017-18: Eastern Washington (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
• 2019: North Texas (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
• 2020: Utah State (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
• 2021: Auburn (offensive analyst/interim quarterbacks)
• 2022-23: Northern Iowa (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
• 2024-Present: Middle Tennessee (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)

You’re probably noticing more play-calling roles in his background than the above model suggests. 2020 is always excluded due to the oddity of that year—Deven Thompkins led the Aggies that year with… 214 yards. The 2018 numbers are also excluded because he OC’d an FCS program. But for your convenience, EWU’s leading receiver that year caught 84 passes for 1,379 yards and 11 scores.

Reeder’s most recent program, Northern Iowa (FCS), was led by Sam Schnee, who caught 57 passes for 1,045 yards and six scores in 2023. Schnee also led Northern Iowa in 2022 with 764 yards and three scores.

Omari Kelly (6’0″, 186)

2023 STATS: 2 (7) – 45 – 0 (0.8 PPG)

Kelly enters his third year of CFB after producing very little output in his first two seasons. He was a three-star prospect from Alabama in the class of 2022, with an offer sheet that included Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and others. He eventually committed to Bryan Harsin’s Auburn Tigers but would fail to make an impact during his time on the plains.

He is generously listed at 6’0” in the quotes above, but Fantrax has him closer to 5’11″. I suppose it doesn’t really matter; the difference is insignificant. 

Kelly first landed on my radar as I was preparing the spring game recaps last month. During MTSU’s spring contest, Kelly led the program with six receptions for 93 yards. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be WR1 in season, but it appeared that he was in that game.

According to Campus2Canton, Kelly’s current ADP is NA, suggesting that you can still acquire him at a low or no cost. Given the above facts, I think he’s a no-brainer to take a shot on late.

You can find more articles like this over here: VolumePigs

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