Former Arkansas QBs fail to win starting jobs at new schools
Neither of Arkansas’ top two quarterbacks from 2018 will begin this season as the starter at their new school.
Ty Storey was announced as the runner-up in his battle at Western Kentucky on Tuesday, while Cole Kelley has been unable to overtake the returning starter at Southeastern Louisiana.
The pair combined to start 11 of the Razorbacks’ 12 games last year (Storey - 9, Kelley - 2), with Connor Noland - who has since left the team to focus on baseball - starting the other. Noland won his start against Tulsa, while the other two went 1-10.
In a competition that lasted several weeks into the season, Storey eventually emerged as the Razorbacks’ primary starter. He completed 57.2 percent of his passes for 1,584 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Including five fumbles he lost, Storey was responsible for 15 of Arkansas’ SEC-worst 26 turnovers last season.
With head coach Chad Morris openly discussing his intention to bring in a new quarterback, the former four-star recruit out of Charleston, Ark., opted to become a graduate transfer and find a new home for his final collegiate season.
He landed at Western Kentucky - which happens to come to Fayetteville for a non-conference game on Nov. 9 - but he still has some work to do if he’ll get a chance at revenge. First-year head coach Tyson Helton is giving returning starter Steven Duncan the nod in the Hilltoppers’ Aug. 29 opener against UCA.
“I thought it was a very close battle,” Helton told media. “I thought both him and Ty Storey were really pretty even, to be honest with you. I’m just going to go with my first instinct, and my first instinct was to run Steven out there.”
Helton added that Storey will still have a role on the team and will play against the Bears, but said he wants to avoid a “spinning wheel” of quarterbacks.
Kelley actually won the starting job at Arkansas to begin the 2018 season. He was viewed as the favorite because he also started four games for an injured Austin Allen as a redshirt freshman under previous head coach Bret Bielema, but the coaching change led to his battle with Storey.
Appearing in nine total games last year, Kelley completed 52.2 percent of his passes for 455 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. He also scored three rushing touchdowns, as his 6-foot-7, 258-pound frame made him a short-yardage, goal-line threat.
However, after falling behind Storey on the depth chart, it became clear he would likely transfer - a move he made official in early December.
Having already redshirted, Kelley decided to drop down to the FCS level so he’d be immediately eligible. He landed at Southeastern Louisiana, which is less than two hours away from his hometown of Lafayette, La.
The Lions return their starter from last year’s 4-7 team, though, in former Fresno State transfer Chason Virgil. Although he led the Southland Conference with 3,034 passing yards, he did so by completing just 59.5 percent of his passes and throwing 13 interceptions to go with his 17 touchdown passes.
Despite coming to Southeastern Louisiana with SEC experience and in time to go through spring practice, Kelley has been unable to overtake the senior for the starting job. He is currently second on the depth chart, according to a team spokesperson.