Former SMU QB visiting Arkansas
Former SMU quarterback Ben Hicks was on campus at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville this weekend.
Hicks announced in December he attended to transfer before his final year of eligibility. He will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Richard Davenport confirmed Hicks was in Fayetteville. Hicks was expected to leave Fayetteville today.
Hicks and other players are available through the new NCAA transfer portal database, which was introduced on Oct. 15. The portal is a new mechanism to give student-athletes more control of the transfer process.
The NCAA introduced the portal and other new rules in the 2018-19 academic year to offer student-athletes more flexibility. Players such as former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant and former Arkansas receiver Jonathan Nance took advantage of a rule that allows players to redshirt in seasons in which they play four games or less.
Programs previously blocked players from transfers or limited their potential transfer destinations. The process is now more controlled by the student-athletes, but programs can now cancel the scholarships of players at the end of the semester in which they declare their intent to transfer.
The transfer portal allows any coach to contact the student-athletes in the database. The mechanism has become a feature tool for a number of high-profile quarterbacks as more and more teams build around one main starter.
Arkansas head coach Chad Morris confirmed this week rising redshirt senior Ty Storey, of Charleston, has declared his intent to transfer despite starting nine of 12 games this past season. Storey threw for 1,584 yards with
11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 57.2 completion percentage.
Storey became the team’s starting quarterback after three games and started eight of their last nine, missing the team’s 23-0 home win against Tulsa due to a concussion he suffered in the previous game.
Bryant and Nance already went through the portal and ended up at Missouri. Other quarterbacks to enter the portal include former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts, Ohio State’s Tate Martell and Oklahoma’s Austin Kendall.
Rising redshirt junior Cole Kelley started the 2018 season as the starter for Arkansas, but he was relegated to a backup role after throwing for
185 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions on 16-for-35 passing in
a 44-17 home defeat in September against North Texas. He has since transferred to play in his home state at Southeastern Louisiana, where he will be able to play immediately in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Morris was the head coach at SMU when Hicks joined the Mustangs. Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock was at SMU from 2015-17 before following Morris to Fayetteville.
Hicks visited Louisville on Friday and is reportedly also considering Georgia Tech. The Mustangs were 7-5 in the regular season in 2017 under Morris, but they fell one game short of bowl eligibility at 5-7 in 2018 for first-year head coach Sonny Dykes.
Morris, Craddock and several feature players on offense helped Hicks throw for 3,569 yards and 33 touchdowns to 12 interceptions with a 58.5 completion percentage in 2017. His numbers dropped to a completion percentage of 55.9, 2,582 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.
Arkansas quarterbacks completed 54.6 percent of their passes in Morris’ first season. The team finished with just 2,307 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns against 18 interceptions.
The Razorbacks have three quarterbacks on scholarship going into spring workouts. Daulton Hyatt, out of Etowah High School in Alabama, will be a redshirt sophomore.
Freshmen Connor Noland, of Greenwood, and John Stephen Jones, out of Highland Park High School in Texas, were able to redshirt this season as Noland played in four games and Jones played in three. Noland started and was 10-for-16 passing for 124 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Tulsa.
K.J. Jefferson signed with Arkansas last month out of North Panola High School in Mississippi. He is the team’s only quarterback commitment in the Class of 2019.
Morris’ son, Chandler, was recently named the Dallas Morning News’ SportsDay Offensive Player of the Year after he quarterbacked Highland Park to a third straight Class 5A Division I state championship as a junior with 4,036 passing yards, 651 rushing yards and 66 total touchdowns. He has been offered scholarships by Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Oklahoma and SMU among others.