Arkansas, Mississippi State turn to transfers to fill QB void

By: David Brandt, The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Arkansas quarterback Ben Hicks talks to teammates during practice Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas quarterback Ben Hicks talks to teammates during practice Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Fayetteville.

— Two Southeastern Conference Western Division programs hope transfer quarterbacks can give them a boost in the standings.

Mississippi State brought in Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens to compete for the starting job with Keytaon Thompson. Arkansas added two graduate transfers — SMU's Ben Hicks and Texas A&M's Nick Starkel — who will battle to lead the program's offense.

Both schools expect the competition to be settled during preseason camp.

"The sooner, the better because I want our team to rally around that guy," Arkansas coach Chad Morris said on Wednesday at SEC media days.

Arkansas is trying to improve on last year's 2-10 season, which included a 0-8 mark in the SEC. Hicks threw for more than 9,000 yards over three seasons at SMU and played the first two seasons under Morris, who then took the Arkansas job.

Starkel, who is a junior, was Kellen Mond's backup at Texas A&M last year but threw for 1,793 yards as a freshman.

Mississippi State is looking for a new quarterback after the departure of three-year starter Nick Fitzgerald. The Bulldogs were 8-5 last season, but struggled at times on offense, especially through the air.

Thompson was Fitzgerald's backup last year, throwing for 458 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. The 6-foot-5 Stevens backed up star Trace McSorley at Penn State.

Moorhead coached Stevens early in his Penn State career when he was the school's offensive coordinator.

"I think Tommy is a kid with a lot of physical tools," Moorhead said. "Strong arm. He can really run. He's accustomed to the system so he's going to understand it for the most part coming in.

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