Hog Calls:

Quarterback fits well with old coaches, new teammates

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, February 23, 2019
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks (8) throws a pass in front of Central Florida linebacker Gabriel Luyanda (24) and defensive lineman Anthony Montalvo (94) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. UCF won 48-20. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks (8) throws a pass in front of Central Florida linebacker Gabriel Luyanda (24) and defensive lineman Anthony Montalvo (94) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. UCF won 48-20. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

FAYETTEVILLE -- This upcoming 2019 football season marks the 40th since Southwest Conference Player of the Year Kevin Scanlon quarterbacked Lou Holtz's preseason projected bare cupboard Razorbacks to their SWC championship.

But it's not Scanlon's impact on that 10-2 Razorbacks 1979 team subjected here.

For in 1977 Scanlon stood in shoes similar to Ben Hicks' Arkansas shoes today. Scanlon under Holtz, and Hicks in January under Coach Chad Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock both coaching him three years at SMU, joined new teams with their old coaches knowing them better than those they inherited.

Inevitably that initially prompts awkward moments with new teammates.

Scanlon was recruited by Holtz at North Carolina State and as a freshman was his 1975 backup quarterback.

Like Hicks' SMU 2018 minus gone to Arkansas Morris and Craddock, Scanlon's 1976 at North Carolina State with Holtz gone to the New York Jets didn't go as well.

With Holtz Arkansas hired, Scanlon transferred in January 1977.

Scanlon had to redshirt. He paid dues while junior Ron Calcagni quarterbacked the stunning 11-1 season.

Again paying dues as Calcagni's 1978 backup, Beaver Falls, Pa., native Scanlon became thoroughly Arkie before quarterbacking the Hogs in 1979. He certainly remains Arkie enshrined in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Razorbacks Hall of Honor while a longtime executive in Little Rock at Stephens Inc.

It all Arkansas began building relationships and trust with new teammates while keeping the trust of his old coaches.

As a graduate transfer with just this 2019 eligibility for a team with no incumbent starting quarterbacks in camp, Hicks can't apprentice.

Recruited and redshirted by Morris and Craddock at SMU in 2015, Hicks was their starting quarterback in 2016 and 2017. Given SMU went 2-10 while Hicks redshirted, Morris and Craddock equate him to success. Hicks set Mustangs passing records as SMU in 2016 and 2017 improved to 5-7 and 7-6.

"It was a no-brainer to me and Coach whenever his name got put in the portal as the guy we've trained for three years in our system," Craddock said. "He knows what to expect from me. He knows what to expect from Coach Morris. He really wanted to be back with me and Coach Morris, and I think he's excited about that opportunity."

The key seems exciting new teammates while both leading and fitting in.

"I think some at first were kind of standoffish," Craddock said. "He's trying to drag guys out and get them going. So at first it was a little tougher for him than it is now being around the guys for a couple of months and really getting to know them on and off the field. He's really challenged himself to learn their names and learn something about each player and those types of things. I think the players flock to him. I think they are taking him in very well."

New teammates taking in the new quarterback seems Step One if he's to take them where they want to go.

Sports on 02/23/2019

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.