Hogs: QB search begins; transfers; more notes

Hogs: QB search begins; transfers; more notes

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FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas head coach Chad Morris said Friday night he “liked the retention” from spring practice carried into the first August practice and the first-day enthusiasm.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” Morris said. “That type of excitement, that type of energy level. Everybody loves Christmas morning and so we’ve got to treat every day like it’s Christmas morning.”'

Chase Harrell, the University of Kansas graduate transfer who can play this fall, practiced Friday night with the Razorbacks during their opening practice of preseason.

Harrell, (6-4, 215 of Huffman, Texas), redshirted with the Jayhawks as a freshman in 2015, caught three passes for 5 yards as a reserve in 2016 and last season caught 25 passes for 221 yards and made five tackles on special teams.

Another Texan transferring via the state of Kansas, junior college transfer running back Rakeem Boyd of Stratford, Texas, and Independence (Kan.) Community College also practiced for the first time as the Razorbacks opened in their NCAA-mandated non-contact practice.

Morris said after Friday night’s practice that running backs coach Jeff Traylor and receivers coach Justin Stepp ran almost as hard as Boyd and Harrell trying to coach them up.

Dorian Gerald, the touted junior college transfer defensive end at College of the Canyons, (Calif.). had just arrived and did not practice. Gerald still has paper work to complete before he can certified to practice.

Arkansas senior special-teamer/reserve defensive back Ryder Lucas and freshman receiver Michael Woods, both recently charged with misdemeanor DWI, did practice Friday.

Redshirt freshman Shane Clenin, previously tried at tackle and guard, practiced at second-team center Friday, snapping to third-year sophomore quarterback Cole Kelley.

Sophomore Hayden Henry operated first-team outside linebacker when the Razorbacks used three true linebackers to go with first-team middle linebacker Scoota Harris and weakside linebacker Dre Greenlaw. D’Vone McClure subbed for out indefinitely injured senior Kevin Richardson. Richardson had worked as the first-team nickel when a nickel back was employed with Harris and Greenlaw.

Ty Storey, the fourth-year junior QB from Charleston, opened taking first-team snaps from center Dylan Hays during the first four periods that media were allowed to watch.

Both interchanged with the first and second teams throughout the practice, Morris said after practice.

New offensive coordinator/QB coach Joe Craddock began Friday night’s first practice searching for a QB who stands out from the crowd to be the unquestioned starter.

Kelley was last year’s No. 2 QB, playing nine games including four starts when 2017 senior starter Austin Allen was sidelined by injury, Storey, Allen’s 2016 nominal backup, played briefly twice last season.

If not one of them, Craddock evaluates redshirt freshman Daulton Hyatt, brand new freshmen Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones and returning third-year sophomore Jack Lindsey.

“Really just looking for consistency,” Craddock has said. “One (between Storey and Kelley) would go up one day and be OK (in the spring) and then it would be completely the opposite the next day.  So just getting in a rhythm, getting hot and putting our team in the end zone with consistency is what we’re looking for.  We can’t have a guy that is three and out, three and out, three and out, score then three and out, three and out, field goal. We have to be able to push the ball down the field and put our team in position to score touchdowns.”

Storey has "progressed great,” Craddock said. “He’s worked on his mechanics and he’s got a strong arm as well as Cole. And watching on film, Connor and John Stephen do as well. And Daulton Hyatt showed a strong arm in spring as well. They all know out of spring we didn’t name a starter and the job is wide open, so I think every single one of them has taken that and really worked to make themselves better.”

If Morris and Craddock don’t deem one QB truly ahead of the others at the preseason’s close, would they extend the competition to play multiple QBs in the Sept. 1 opener against Eastern Illinois at Reynolds Razorback Stadium and perhaps into the Sept. 8 and Sept. 15 non-conference games at Colorado State and again at Fayetteville against North Texas before the SEC opener Sept. 22 at Auburn?

“I’m not opposed to it at all,” Craddock said. “If nobody emerges at fall camp, that’s definitely an option. But I’m going to be pressing on those guys pretty hard to get somebody to emerge. But if we can’t, then we’ll play a couple of them that first game and see how they do in live situations.”

Going live is the ultimate test for all positions but particularly QBs who aren’t supposed to be hit at all during practice let alone like they get hit during a game.

“In practice you’ve got that anthracite jersey on that says you can’t hit us,” Craddock said. “It makes it easier to stay in the pocket. But when the bullets start flying, you’ve got to make a decision about when that ball leaves your hand. So I could see us playing a couple of guys that first game.”

Whenever the decision to name a No. 1 QB, Craddock said it’s the utmost for the other QBs to accept they aren’t the starter but never accept failure to compete.

“If a guy is named, our guys have to believe in us as coaches that we know what we were talking about,” Craddock said. “That this guy is better than me and I’ve got to keep working and stay ready for my next opportunity.”

Craddock recalled  numerous  circumstances dictating the backup QB elevated to starter.

“We’ve got to find a guy for sure,” Craddock said.  “But everybody has got to be ready go.”

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