LAFAYETTE, La. — Cole Kelley always enjoyed watching Oklahoma State football because the Cowboys’ up-tempo, pass-heavy offense is so similar to the unit he quarterbacked at Teurlings Catholic High School.
So when Oklahoma State extended a scholarship offer to Kelley following his junior season, it seemed like a natural fit, right?
Not so fast.
“I kinda wanted to challenge myself and do something different, because when I challenge myself I think I end up playing better,” Kelley said during a Wednesday interview with SEC Country.
Instead of slinging it in Stillwater, Okla., Kelley chose Arkansas and its more pro-style offense. He moves to Fayetteville within the next couple weeks to report for summer workouts.
Kelley — a big quarterback at 6-foot-7 — took over the Teurlings Catholic offense his junior season and, although he expected that he might have a good year, surprised even himself.
“We knew we were gonna have a high-powered offense going into it,” Kelley said. “All of our receivers had started the year before and were very good, and with this type of offense where we throw it so much — and we basically run the ball by throwing it, with little swings and screens and stuff — I knew I would have some pretty good stats.
“But I didn’t think it would be as good or that our team would be all around as good as we were my junior year.”
He threw for 2,984 yards and 31 touchdown passes that year and began to see his recruiting stock go up after it was over. He picked up offers from smaller schools like Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech before Arkansas and Oklahoma State offered.
“I think he’s a prototypical pro-style guy,” said Teurlings Catholic coach Sonny Charpentier. “He can throw 50 times; we’ve done that in high school.
“But I think this decision gives you a good insight into Cole’s maturity. He’s all about wanting to win. He feels like Arkansas has the best system that fits him and his talents.”
Kelley said that he believes that gaining experience in a new system will help him eventually reach the NFL.
“I’m more comfortable in this type of offense, but at the same time, my ultimate goal is to one day play in the NFL,” Kelley said. “If I just do this my whole life, I feel like I’ll get too comfortable with it and I won’t be able to expand my horizons and do different things.
“You’re gonna have to do different things if you are gonna make the league one day.”
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: