LAFAYETTE, La. — Cole Kelley loves playing quarterback because he is comfortable being in control.
“I like having the ball in my hands and helping people make plays,” Kelley said during a recent interview with SEC Country. “I like to be able to make decisions.”
But when Kelley’s football career began many years ago, rules prevented him from playing quarterback — or, for that matter, any skill position. The Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department oversees youth sports in the city and, according to its rules, players over a certain weight can only play interior offensive and defensive line positions.
And Kelley was big. That fact didn’t change when Kelley reached middle school, but those weight rules no longer applied, freeing him up to play — and excel in — the position he loves.
The massive, 6-foot-7 quarterback signed with Arkansas in February and will report to Fayetteville for summer workouts later this week.
Kelley, who was 10 pounds at birth, was always the biggest kid among his peers.
“He was always the tallest one in the class,” said Sheri Guilbeau, Cole’s mother. “There were times when other people would go through growth spurts and they’d kinda start to catch up with him, and then he would go through a growth spurt again.
“And then finally, he just kept going.”
Those years as an offensive linemen were rough. Kelley hated those positions, although he did enjoy playing on the defensive line.
In fact, during his seventh- and eighth-grade years, he was his team’s starting quarterback and nose guard.
But once he hit high school at Lafayette’s Teurlings Catholic, Kelley was exclusively a quarterback.
He threw for 2,980 yards and 27 touchdowns in his junior season and led his team to the Louisiana state quarterfinals. As a senior, Kelley recorded 3,203 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, and the Rebels reached the semifinals.
“One advantage, obviously, is vision, but I also think it helps my arm strength, putting more force into the ball,” Kelley said when asked how his size helps him as a quarterback.
“Mobility is a lot harder and footwork is a lot harder, but I love my size. On the field, I love it.”
He’s also a little harder for blitzing defenders to bring down, although Kelley laughed and admitted that advantage will probably disappear in the SEC.
Teurlings Catholic coach Sonny Charpentier said that at the end of the day, though, Kelley is just a good quarterback.
“Quarterbacking is a lot about being able to see, and when you’ve got all those extra inches in height and you’re able to see more, you can decipher more and read more,” Charpentier said. “There weren’t a lot of people in the way. Everybody sees Drew Brees on Sundays on his toes sometimes trying to see over those guys.
“But you still have to know what you’re seeing. He’s not just good because he’s tall. Cole could be 6-foot tall and he’d still be an outstanding quarterback.”
Arkansas beat writer Jason Kersey is visiting several 2016 Razorback signees before they report to campus later this month. Here is a look at past stories in the Up Next series:
- What has kept Arkansas signee Briston Guidry from being complacent? ‘I just love the game too much’
- After stellar senior season, Arkansas linebacker signee De’jon Harris could have a role on offense
- Why quarterback Cole Kelley chose Arkansas’ offense instead of a more familiar system at Oklahoma State
- Arkansas running back signee Devwah Whaley excited for journey with new ‘brothers’
- A proud momma’s boy, Arkansas’ Briston Guidry skipped prom, stayed home, watched movie with mom
- Arkansas signee Jordan Jones withstood pressure from Nick Saban, remained committed to Razorbacks