Take a long sigh of relief. Arkansas football season is almost here.
Camp is almost here, anyway. Razorbacks fall camp begins Thursday, July 27. Bret Bielema’s team is predicted to finish fourth in the SEC West even with a new defensive coordinator and 12 starters back from last year’s 7-6 team.
One reason for that is at quarterback.
SEC Country’s series looking at every position – and every player – on the roster begins today with Austin Allen and his cohorts. Each day up until the start of camp, we will profile a different unit. The position will go through each player on the roster, sort them by where they land on the depth chart and, sometimes, provide coaches’ insight on that particular player.
We may get a better idea of who will end up on the team’s 105-man roster between this series and actual football when camp begins.
Without further ado.
1. Austin Allen – senior
While not everyone can agree where Allen slots when it comes to the SEC quarterback hierarchy, the masses can yield the second-year starter is the best, most-established passer in the league.
Allen is the league’s returning leader in completions, yards-per-attempt, touchdowns and passer rating. Detractors can argue his poor second half of last year (7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in Arkansas’ last six games, games in which the Razorbacks went 2-4) and it’s a fair critique. Upon closer inspection, however, Allen wasn’t the reason his team lost those games, save the Missouri matchup, which Allen immediately owned.
The truth is the Razorbacks might be picked last in the SEC West if anyone else on the Arkansas roster is the starter this year. Allen keeps his team capable of yet another bowl season under Bielema.
What offensive coordinator Dan Enos says
“I think the ability to stay poised and calm in all situations [is the big thing for him to work on]. … He’s proved that at critical times and at times during the game where he needs to be at his best, he is at his best. ‘Be yourself and don’t force things when things aren’t there.’ If you’re trying too hard to make a play, that’s when plays usually go negative on you. He had very, very few moments in 15 practices where he wasn’t [sharp].”
2. Ty Storey – sophomore
In the interest of being decisive with our decision, Storey slots in as the back-up. For now. Storey has almost been on campus four calendar years. And that comes with both good and bad connotations from an anxious fan base.
Storey left Charleston High, just down the road about 90 minutes, a 4-star prospect. He was one of the most highly-touted quarterbacks to come out of the state in a few years. More so than Allen. Storey arrived in Fayetteville early, too, skipping the second semester of his senior year to enroll in college. All this combined with his inability to establish himself as Allen’s definite top backup, Storey’s upside has waned some.
Not with Enos, though. Storey is coming off his best spring since arriving. And despite the calls to make the next player listed Allen’s lieutenant, Storey held them off.
“I think Ty is a guy who has really had to work hard at changing his throwing mechanics since I got here. This past spring is the best I’ve seen him. He’s a smart player, tough. He’s competitive.”
3. Cole Kelley – redshirt freshman
The comparisons to former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett were immediate. They’ve stayed, too, for various reasons.
Kelley is 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, and he isn’t just big for a quarterback. With that frame comes an arm to match. He has the best arm strength on the roster by a healthy margin. Kelley is also the least mobile and he’s struggled with decision-making. Those two things have kept him from leapfrogging Storey. None of that is to say he can’t overcome them — heck, he is a redshirt freshman – but proclamations he’s the quarterback of the future are a bit premature.
“Cole, we had to refine his feet and his drops. He’s never really played under center before. We had to change his body. He had a tendency to, with that big arm comes big mistakes. He’s got to learn that fine balance between a guy that attacks and one who will just make the play that’s there.”
4. Daulton Hyatt – freshman
A perfect world would see Hyatt redshirt this upcoming season. Even a modest one would, to be fair.
The 3-star recruit enrolled in January to get a head start on college football. His participation in the spring was rather limited with three playable quarterbacks in front on the depth chart. Hyatt is raw, though, both on the field and off. He entered at about 177 pounds, despite being 6-foot-4. He’s now up to 191. The Alabama native should fight for a starting job in a couple seasons.
“He’s like clay. You’re just going to mold him. 6-4, 177 when he got here. 191 already. He can run. He’s got great arm strength. Raw. Limited underneath center. Limited drop work. … I’ll tell you this, I’m really excited about him. He can really run. A guy his size, he’s very fluid.”
5a. Carson Proctor – redshirt freshman
5b. Jack Lindsey – redshirt freshman
Proctor and Lindsey are the two scout-team quarterbacks. Both are walk-ons. Neither will play this season, barring something going awry.
“They’re both good players. They are not guys you just go ‘Oh, yeah, he’ll never play.’ Both those guys could play here someday in my opinion. They definitely both have ability and really did a good job in the spring.”