Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
QB Cole Kelley will transfer from Razorbacks
Cole Kelley, Arkansas quarterback, throws the ball before taking a hit from LaDarius Hamilton, North Texas defensive end, in the 2nd quarter Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Quarterback Cole Kelley will transfer from Arkansas, he announced Monday via his Twitter account.
Kelley, a redshirt sophomore who started six games in two seasons but saw his role in the offense diminish as the 2018 season went along, did not list any possible transfer destinations.
“This was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make,” Kelley wrote. “And through great difficulty, I have decided that I will be transferring from the University of Arkansas. After talking to my family, friends and my coaches, I feel it is best that I move on from this university. Arkansas will always hold a special place in my heart. I have made some really special friends here and I love all my brothers that I went to work with everyday. I will always love the Razorbacks and I hope nothing but the best for my brothers in the future.”
After starting four times in place of injured starter Austin Allen in 2017, Kelley was named Arkansas’ starter for the 2018 season opener against Eastern Illinois following an off-season position battle with redshirt junior Ty Storey. But Kelley had difficulty holding off Storey for the starting job after the season began.
Kelley struggled to lead scoring drives in the season opener and Storey came off the bench to lead four touchdown drives in a 55-20 Arkansas victory. Storey was named starter the following week against Colorado State.
Storey struggled in the Colorado State game and Kelley came off the bench to help Arkansas build a 27-9 lead in the third quarter. But Kelley could not move the offense well while the Rams mounted a fourth quarter comeback to win 34-27.
Kelley threw four interceptions in a start the following week in a stunning 44-17 loss to North Texas and was benched after coming off the field to a chorus of boos. Storey started eight of the final nine games, and true freshman Connor Noland started in place of Storey for the Tulsa game after Storey suffered a concussion the week before against Ole Miss.
Kelley’s final significant playing time came in the Ole Miss game. He threw a 39-yard touchdown pass during a one-play substitution for Storey during the first half of the game, but like at Colorado State he was unable to move the team after Storey left in the fourth quarter, and Ole Miss erased a 17-point deficit to win 37-33.
Kelley did not play in three of the Razorbacks' final four games, and did not travel for the final two games at Mississippi State and Missouri because of what was described as an illness. Asked about Kelley’s future, Arkansas coach Chad Morris provided no updates during an end-of-season news conference last Thursday.
“I anticipate talking to him quickly,” Morris said.
Kelley finished the 2018 season completing 35 of 67 passes for 455 yards, 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He also rushed for three touchdowns.
He is the first quarterback with starting experience to transfer from Arkansas since 2008, when Nathan Dick transferred to Central Arkansas less than three weeks after starting the season finale against LSU.
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