Morris thinking ahead with quarterback race

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Arkansas coach Chad Morris watches quarterbacks warm up prior to the team's spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Chad Morris watches quarterbacks warm up prior to the team's spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

FORT SMITH — Chad Morris did not allow the suspense to build.

Arkansas’ always-energetic first-year coach had a strong feeling he knew what the first question would be from fans at the Fort Smith Razorback Club Tuesday night, so he stole the show a few moments longer.

“I know someone wants to know who the starting quarterback is going to be,” Morris said with a smile standing behind the podium. “Let me go ahead and address it now before anyone can ask it.

“Truly, the answer is I don’t know,” he added. “And even if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell you.”

Neither Ty Storey, a native of nearby Charleston, nor Cole Kelley separated from the other this spring and, fittingly, each threw for an identical 126 yards and a touchdown in the Red-White game last weekend in Little Rock. Both passing scores went to Cheyenne O’Grady, too.

Right now, Morris’ plan is to name a starting quarterback a couple of weeks into fall camp, which leaves the door open for incoming freshmen Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones to audition for the job, as well Daulton Hyatt, who took the majority of the third team reps this spring.

Morris said he is unsure how Noland and Jones, grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner and former Arkansas great Jerry Jones, will factor into the race in the coming months, but is thrilled to have both in the fold.

On Monday, Noland, another River Valley star by way of Greenwood, a program that has produced the likes of Tyler Wilson and Drew Morgan, notified each MLB franchise he would attend college and altogether bypass the First-Year Player Draft on June 4 to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing for the Razorbacks.

“We’re excited about that, obviously,” Morris said. “We’ll get him for the next few years, and he’ll be a great asset to our university. We’re excited about that and excited about the opportunity for this young man, as well as the rest of our recruiting class, to come in and compete.”

One thing was clear, though: the best player will play. Morris has no issue playing a true freshman at quarterback if he’s the right man to lead the offense. He’s done it before.

Morris stressed the importance of players already within the program continuing to compete, regardless of position.

“It’s important for those guys on campus now, and even the new guys coming in, to have a great summer,” Morris added. “We want these guys to know that everything counts and everyone’s job is in competition.

“I’m a firm believer that competition brings out the best in everybody.”

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