Head coach Sam Pittman discusses quarter battle for Arkansas Razorbacks - Feleipe Franks, KJ Jefferson
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Pittman discusses QB battle at Arkansas

Feleipe Franks is expected to be Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2020.
Feleipe Franks is expected to be Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2020. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — It is no secret that Feleipe Franks is the frontrunner to be Arkansas’ starting quarterback in 2020, but it could be a while before he’s officially named QB1.

A couple of days after telling local media that he’s possibly already decided on a starter, first-year coach Sam Pittman joked during Thursday’s Paul Finebaum Show that the timeline is dependent on the Razorbacks’ first opponent of the season.

“Whenever Kirby Smart shares with us who his starting quarterback’s going to be at Georgia,” Pittman said with a smile when asked by Finebaum when he’d announce his starting quarterback.

Georgia, where Pittman worked the last four years, has an intriguing battle to replace Jake Fromm.

Many expect Jamie Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, to win the job and be among the top quarterbacks in the SEC. However, the Bulldogs also brought in JT Daniels as a transfer from USC this summer and he was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility.

Before the Sept. 26 matchup in Fayetteville, Georgia will have to decide between the experienced guy who put up solid numbers at a non-traditional power (Newman) or the younger, former five-star recruit who started as a true freshman at a blue-blood program (Daniels).

Unlike the Bulldogs, the Razorbacks have only one quarterback on their roster with comparable credentials. Franks was a 6.0 four-star recruit and top-60 overall prospect coming out of high school and eventually led Florida to a 10-win season and New Year’s Six bowl win in 2018.

A season-ending injury suffered in Week 3 last year, though, gave backup Kyle Trask an opportunity to play and he performed well enough that Franks opted to become a graduate transfer.

Three of the five quarterbacks who started at least one game at Arkansas last season are back in 2020, with KJ Jefferson - a former Rivals250 recruit - seemingly being Franks’ top competition.

“We’ve had a couple guys running in there with the 1s, so we’ll decide,” Pittman went on to tell Finebaum. “We’re only six practices in (and) we have a couple of scrimmages to go through and things of that nature. We certainly have an idea of who the top two guys are and we’ll figure it out soon.”

That comment could just be gamesmanship by Pittman, as he seemingly indicated Tuesday that Franks would be the starter and Jefferson would be the backup.

Those quarterbacks have taken the majority of the first- and second-team reps, respectively.

“We’ve got certain people playing with the 1s and certain people playing with the 2s,” Pittman said Tuesday. “To be honest with you, we haven’t switched that, so… I don’t know if I’m going to make a public announcement of who’s going to be our quarterback, I might, but our team knows.”

Before the start of camp, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles said it was Franks' job to lose. Understandably, though, he and Pittman both wanted to see how he looked in pads before making any decisions.

Arkansas is looking for stability at a position that has seen eight different players start at least one game over the last two seasons. It is also hoping for an increase in production.

As a team, the Razorbacks have completed just 52 percent of their passes for an average of 192.6 yards per game over that span. They had more interceptions than touchdowns in each of those two seasons.

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