Cole Kelley named starting QB for season opener

Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley takes a snap during the Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.

— Cole Kelley has won a position battle over Ty Storey for the second consecutive preseason.

Kelley will start Arkansas' season opener against Eastern Illinois at 3 p.m., Saturday, but both quarterbacks are expected to play. It will be Kelley's fifth career start after he made four starts last season in place of the injured Austin Allen.

Arkansas was 2-2 in Kelley's starts last season, with one-point wins over Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss, and lopsided losses to Alabama and Auburn. Kelley played in nine games last season and completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,038 yards and 8 touchdowns, and threw 3 interceptions. He also rushed for 74 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Kelley and Storey have been locked in a position battle since the spring, much like last year when they two battled to back-up Allen during July and August camp. Kelley won the No. 2 position in 2017 and Storey never took a snap in a game.

Although coaches never named a leader, Storey appeared to have a slight upper hand over Kelley coming out of this year's spring practice. They split reps with the first-team offense during preseason practices.

According to coaches and players, Storey had the upper hand in Arkansas' first full preseason scrimmage on Aug. 11, but Kelley was the leading performer in the second scrimmage Aug. 18. Both scrimmages were closed to media and the public.

Kelley led the first series with the first offense during a scripted scrimmage Saturday that was open to the media. Storey quarterbacked the second series, but coaches were not made available for comment afterward to offer any insight into the rotation that day.

Kelley, a 6-7 native of Lafayette, La., lost 20 pounds during the off-season and weighed 255 pounds at the start of preseason camp.

Kelley is the first opening-day starter since Casey Dick in 2008 who did not grow up in Arkansas.

CORRECTION: Kelley played, but did not start Arkansas' game at LSU last season. This story has been corrected to reflect the accurate number of games he has started and the Razorbacks' results in those games.