FAYETTEVILLE - Good friends off the field, Arkansas Razorbacks quarterbacks Ty Storey and Cole Kelley about can’t remember when they weren’t battling each other for playing time on it.
As expected fourth-year junior Storey of Charleston and third-year sophomore Kelley of Lafayette, La,. in spring drills lead the quarterback battle to replace graduated starter Austin Allen. New coach Chad Morris said he won’t designate the starting quarterback until after preseason practices commence in August.
Both, Storey, the nominal backup to Allen when Kelley redshirted in 2016, and Kelley, last year’s backup who started four games when Allen was injured, were media available after Thursday’s practice.
“I've been here before,” Kelley said. “Me and Ty both have. I think we both push each other every day and I know I wouldn't be the player I am today if I didn't have a guy like Ty to battle with, for sure.”
Storey was asked if battling Kelley to start was any different than batting him for backup.
“ Really not,” Storey said. “It’s college football. If you’re here, you’re going to be battling. Everybody is battling. It just comes down continuing to get better every day.”
Obviously they battle watched by different eyes with Bret Bielema and Dan Enos, the head coach and offensive coordinator for whom they played, now in Arkansas’ past replaced by head coach Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock accompanying head coach Morris from SMU and a Clemson grad assistant when Morris was Clemson’s offensive coordinator.
Both Kelley and Storey feel vaguely rooted to Morris’ Clemson past when coordinated the offense and called plays for coach Dabo Swinney.
“ I went to watch film of him at Clemson with Tajh Boyd,” Kelley said when Morris was hired away from SMU last December. “Tajh Boyd (the former Clemson quarterback that Morris coached) is one of the top-three quarterbacks I've ever loved in college.”
Storey said practicing Morris’ hurry-up offense rooted him back to Charleston days under Coach Greg Kendrick.
“Yeah, it’s very similar to what we did in Charleston,” Storey said. “... it’s really cool to see the similarities to what we did in high school to what we are doing now.”
Since last year’s staff ultimately rated Kelley ahead of him, Storey was asked if he feels the coaching changes provides him a new lease on his football life.
“ Yeah, I think it’s good for a lot of people,” Storey said. “I mean, the last staff, I’m not saying anything bad about them. We had some great years and learned a lot from those guys. But it’s definitely a new start.”
From Bielema and Enos to Morris and Craddock, Storey has spent years improving his throwing motion since doing what came naturally at Charleston.