As most could definitely tell, Arkansas struggled all over the field. Offensively, Chad Morris was not nearly able to do what he wanted to do in 2018. #HammerDown and #FullTiltBoogie are the motto’s for what Morris wants to do at Arkansas. The Hogs need a quarterback that can operate the RPO offense more capable than what the Hogs have currently on the roster. Yes, the Razorbacks have dual threat quarterback, KJ Jefferson, coming in out of North Panola High School in Mississippi but the odds of having a true freshman ready for the 2019 that cannot enroll in the spring to compete early is slim. Jefferson broke many passing records at North Panola. He threw for over 9600 yards, 119 touchdowns to only 25 interception, and rushed for over 2900 yards and 24 touchdowns in his CAREER. Excellent high school numbers and is a very decorated talent considering he was facing very competitive Mississippi High Schools. Mississippi has churned out a pretty good number of quarterbacks over the years in Bret Favre, Steve McNair and Archie Manning.
I know, true freshman have started all over the country the past few seasons with Jake Fromm at Georgia, Jalen Hurts at Alabama or Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Look, those guys were already surrounded by exceptional talent that had been around awhile. Fromm had a great defense, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Mecole Hardman, Javon Wims and Terry Godwin. Hurts had Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster. Lawrence is a once in a generation talent that could take any of the best 40 teams in the country and make them amongst the best in the country.
Who would be the best fit at quarterback should Arkansas go that route?
1. Ben Hicks-SMU
Hicks is one most Razorback fans have heard of who played under Morris as the starting quarterback for the SMU Mustangs the past three seasons. During that span, he has put up exceptional numbers while passing for over 9000 yards and 70 touchdowns. He knows the Morris system not as a dual threat but a 6’2 225 pound pocket passer. With the state of the offensive line, Morris may opt to go another direction as Hicks does not fit that mold although he is rather mobile in the pocket.
2017 highlights: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nLtMeIA0pj4
2. Riley Neal-Ball State
Watching Neal on tape, he is a kid that will elude his defenders with exceptional quickness out of the pocket. He is not as decorated of a passer as Hicks but he makes up for it with his feet. Neal has rushed for close to 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns and passed for 4600 yards and 43 touchdowns during his time as the Ball State quarterback. With his escapability and the weapons he will have to throw to on the run, extending plays could help this Arkansas offense be more effective and explosive in 2019.
Highlights vs UAB: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bel9wLWJbLg
3. Shane Beuchele-Texas
In 2016, Buechele was ushered in as starting quarterback as a true freshman as the third rated dual threat quarterback in his class. Beuchele quickly went to work and recorded 280 yards and 2 touchdowns passing and rushed for 33 yards to help beat Notre Dame and for the first time in his tenure, Charlie Strong had Texas “back”. That same season, the Longhorns lost to Kansas when he threw three picks. He had an up and down career at Texas but has the opportunity to transfer and start afresh. He is the highest rated player out of this group of graduate transfer quarterbacks, so his talent is wanted by everyone but needed desperately at Arkansas. He has passed for 4600 yards and 30 touchdowns while also rushing for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns. If granted, he would have the opportunity to use 2018 as a redshirt year as he only received action in two games this season. He would then have two years to play two wherever he would choose. Beuchele has not announced his desire to transfer but he could since he has been surpassed by current starter, Sam Ehlinger.
2016 highlights: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r1MtmgCcqX8