FAYETTEVILLE — The starting quarterback job at Arkansas has been like a revolving door the past two seasons.
That has to change for the team to have success and get away from the 2-10 seasons. But it’s more than just Sam Pittman and Kendal Briles choosing someone and sticking with that person.
The quarterback who they opt to start has to make it impossible for the coaches to want to replace him. In the two years with Chad Morris the closest any quarterback did to that was Ty Storey in 2018.
In 2018, Morris started Storey, Cole Kelley and Connor Noland. Then in 2018, he started Ben Hicks, Nick Starkel and John Stephen Jones. Morris was fired following the loss to Western Kentucky and then Barry Lunney Jr. was named the interim head coach. He started KJ Jefferson against LSU and Jack Lindsey in the Missouri game. So Arkansas has had eight different starting quarterbacks the past two seasons.
Briles and Pittman are obviously hoping that trend doesn’t continue. They currently have five candidates to be this season’s quarterback. They are Florida transfer Feleipe Franks, Lindsey, Jones and Jefferson. In the summer and preseason, Malik Hornsby will join the mix.
All but Hornsby will be involved in the spring drills that are set to begin March 16. Franks is coming off ankle surgery that sidelined him after the Kentucky game last fall. He was injured while running on a fourth-down play.
At Florida, Franks completed 367 of 622 passes for 4,593 yards, 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed 189 times for 438 yards and eight touchdowns. His best season was 2018 when he completed 188 of 322 passes for 2,457 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. he also rushed 110 times for 350 yards and seven touchdowns.
Jefferson is a redshirt freshman who played in three games last fall thus preserving his redshirt season. He completed 14 of 31 passes for 197 yards with one interception. Jefferson also rushed 30 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns. He, like Franks, fits the dual-threat description Arkansas wants at quarterback.
Lindsey, a senior, played quarterback in two games. He completed 13 of 30 passes 126 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 80 yards. The former walk-on quarterback from Springdale High School also is the holder for the placements.
Jones played in three games in 2019. He completed 13 of 26 passes for 101 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He rushed 11 times for 22 yards. Jones will be a third-year sophomore this fall.
Hornsby will bring outstanding credentials to Arkansas this fall. As a senior at Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall he completed 117 of 202 passes for 2,320 yards, 29 touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Hornsby rushed 131 times for 1,582 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Franks has by far the most experience of all the quarterbacks. He has started in the SEC and had success. Briles recently commented on Franks.
“It’s huge having a guy that has experience and has done it at a high level,” Briles said. “To have him here and get him on campus to be able to go through spring ball is huge and so valuable. We’re really blessed to have him. Feleipe is a great person and I’m honored to be able to coach him.”
As far as starting spring ball on Monday, March 16, Arkansas will practice on Wednesday and Friday before going to spring break. Pittman talked about after spring break what he has planned for spring football.
“We’ll come back after spring break and have four weeks of spring ball, going Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” Pittman said.