By Otis Kirk
Arkansas signed Sardis (Mo.) North Panola quarterback KJ Jefferson on Wednesday and that was a big priority for Chad Morris’ staff.
Jefferson is rated a four-star quarterback with the major recruiting services. Jefferson completely fits what Morris and his staff are looking for in a quarterback. Morris talked about what he felt was the main factor in the Hogs landing Jefferson.
“Well, it goes back to relationships,” Morris said. “I remember Coach (Joe) Craddock, who did a fabulous job of recruiting him. We started watching him early, started building a relationship. I remember that I was actually heading down to Little Rock (for Red-White Game) on the day that he and his mom were coming here on a visit, and I remember the FaceTiming me because I couldn’t be here.
“Sitting there and talking to them though FaceTime and just sharing my vision and the past quarterbacks that I’ve been associated with, and being able to help develop. And then obviously our relationship that Coach Craddock has built with him.”
Morris said once he and his staff got to know Jefferson making him a priority was simple.
“We knew this was the guy, and all we needed was his word,” Morris said. “Again, it goes back relationships. He gave us his word in the summer, I guess it was the early part, and stayed true to who he is. That was special, especially from a quarterback. It was great to have him. He runs really well. Throws the ball exceptionally well. Comes from a winning program.”
As a senior, Jefferson led his team to a 12-2 record. He completedl 166 of 245 passes for 3,180 yards and 37 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Despite battling an ankle injury, Jefferson still rushed 115 times for 916 yards and seven touchdowns.
While adding Jefferson was important, Morris said Wednesday that adding a grad transfer or junior college quarterback is still very much a possibility.
“Absolutely we’re still exploring options to bring an older quarterback in, and we’ll see how that goes,” Morris said.
Would you consider taking one who wasn’t a midterm enrollee?
“I would. I would still consider that,” Morris said. “We are going to look, again, to get older at that position to create some depth. So yeah, we love the guys that we have, but at the same sense, I don’t want to get into a position where we don’t have enough. Where you get injury-prone, and all of a sudden you’re in a bind. But yeah, I anticipate bringing someone in, whether that be January, whether that be early summer or whenever that may be. But, we’ll see. We want the right fit.”
Since the season ended, Cole Kelley has announced his intentions to transfer. That leaves four scholarship quarterbacks if all opt to return. Ty Storey will be a senior, Daulton Hyatt a sophomore and both Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones will be redshirt freshmen. It’s still possible some more quarterbacks could leave, but none other than Kelley have indicated that thus far.
Storey started nine games this season. He completed 143 of 250 passes for 1,584 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He rushed 67 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. Noland started one game. He completed 21 of 42 passes for 255 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Jones completed 2 of 8 passes for 18 yards and rushed three times for 15 yards.