Jason Kersey/SEC Country
Arkansas quarterbacks Cole Kelley (left) and Ty Storey (right) are neck-and-neck for the backup spot.

Storey vs Kelley in battle for Arkansas backup QB gig

Eric Bolin

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Ty Storey and Cole Kelley squaring off this fall camp is far from the most important story of the Arkansas preseason. The two quarterbacks, in a perfect world, will never see the field in 2017.

Austin Allen, the man in front of Storey and Kelley, is perhaps the best quarterback in the SEC. He is undoubtedly the best returning passer in the conference. Allen, however, is a senior. The starting quarterback job comes open in 2018.

Frankly, it could come open in 2017. Allen took more hard shots than any quarterback in the league last year as his protection was often porous. However, Storey saw only garbage-time snaps and nothing more.

Those late-game duties left a lot to be desired. Both to the eyes and by the numbers Storey struggled. He played in three games and completed only 1 of 4 passes. Mostly he was relegated to handing the ball off to a running back.

Here is a comparison, some analysis and projection on who ultimately wins the backup quarterback job.

Ty Storey – 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, sophomore

Back when Brandon Allen was having a rough year in his first as a starter at Arkansas, Storey – then in high school about 70 minutes away in Charleston (Ark.) — was hailed as Allen’s successor. He was a 4-star who was ripping through the competition.

That competition was only at a 3A level, though, and it has shown since Storey’s arrival in college. He enrolled at Arkansas in what should have been his final semester of high school. College coaches changed his throwing motion, but they figured with his size and as he adjusted to the speed of the next level, he’d come along.

Things have been slow in that regard. But Storey is coming off an impressive spring camp, and despite proclamations from a wary fan base and some overzealous in the media, Kelley hasn’t been crowned as No. 2 yet.

Cole Kelley – 6-7, 268 pounds, redshirt freshman

Kelley is a 3-star recruit from Lafayette, La. With his size, the comparisons to former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet came immediately. Kelley carries himself somewhat like the Texarkana native, too.

Kelley’s best asset is his arm strength. He can throw it farther and harder than any other quarterback on the roster. What he has to develop are the finer aspects. Kelley needs more touch and, offensive coordinator Dan Enos said, superior decision making. He too often tries to fit the ball in tight spots. Enos said he would also like to see Kelley advance his footwork as he hasn’t spent much time under center in his career.


The winner will be determined, probably, in the next two or three weeks. It’s unlikely Enos and coach Bret Bielema will want to let the job stay open through the beginning of the season. As of right now, it’s Storey’s.