We’re close to decision day for former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant to announce where he’s headed for his final year and Arkansas is in the mix.
Too many fans may be pinning too many expectations on that decision because if he does come he probably won’t make that much difference in the offense.
Of all the problems this team has, quarterback is the one where several other things have to get fixed before any of us will know who the answer is there.
Whatever Bryant’s decision, Cole Kelley won’t be here either way. In maybe the most anticlimactic announcement, Kelley tweeted Monday he wouldn’t be back. If you were paying attention you figured that was the case about mid-September when he was firing one pass after another to North Texas’ defense.
Just in case you’re wondering, Dalton Hyatt will probably be the next quarterback to leave town.
If all that sounds harsh it shouldn’t be. Neither player is a bad individual, but they haven’t shown the ability to lead the Hogs to any level of success.
There still has to be six players to leave if Arkansas wants to sign 29 this recruiting cycle. If that sounds cruel, sorry. There aren’t very many four-year scholarships handed out these days and it’s on a year-to-year basis.
Hyatt will likely be leaving along with running back T.J. Hammonds (who told some privately in early November he wouldn’t be back). Chevin Callaway has “stepped away” from the program, but he likely won’t be back. There will be others.
But for this week, the quarterback position will take center stage.
Bryant may or may not be coming. To be honest, the Hogs need a lot more than just a one-year graduate transfer at quarterback. If he had played this season they might have won four games.
Let’s face it, Cam Newton behind that offensive line with that group of wide receivers would have been lucky to be 6-6.
Bryant is only an immediate short-term possible solution. No one knows how good he will be away from a Clemson program in the College Football Playoff for the fourth year in a row and picked to be in the championship game for the third year out of those four.
He was also beat out on that team by a true freshman, albeit a talented one. Arkansas doesn’t have anyone on the radar with Trevor Lawrence’s skillset.
Not even incoming freshman KJ Jefferson. There is absolutely no way to predict what he will do. When he steps on the practice field in Fayetteville he will face talent on the scout team twice as good as anything he faced in high school at North Panola (the smaller school in Sardis, not the nationally-recognized South Panola a few miles away in Batesville).
That’ll leave Connor Noland, who will be juggling baseball with spring football, redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones and fifth-year senior Ty Storey.
Storey has been labeled as gritty and tough, which is how us media wags term a quarterback that is the object of what closely resembles a jailbreak through an offensive line that at times didn’t appear to have the common courtesy to at least holler “look out!”
Most of that offensive line won’t be back, which may be the best news of all heading into spring practice.
As Bear Bryant said one time after an off year at Alabama in the late 1960’s (yes, it even got so bad he nearly jumped to the NFL with the Miami Dolphins), “the worst thing you can have coming off a bad year is a bunch of returning starters.”
That likely will be the case with the Hogs. Keep a roster handy.
Otherwise you may not know who’s on the team.