He had already visited Oklahoma State and wasn’t planning on making any long-term decisions any time soon.
But when Teurlings Catholic quarterback Cole Kelley and his mother arrived in Fayetteville, Ark., for their official visit with the Razorbacks this weekend, the experience changed his mind in a hurry.
“As soon as we got there, the whole coaching staff came over and was hugging us,” Kelley said Saturday afternoon on his way back home. “Everybody was so nice. Everything there was so nice.”
So nice, in fact, that the 6-foot-7, strong-armed quarterback gave Arkansas a verbal commitment to sign with the Razorbacks in February before leaving the campus.
The Daily Advertiser’s All-Acadiana Offensive Most Valuable Player visited Oklahoma State last week and had previously attended LSU’s Junior Day activities. Kelley said that no future visits to other programs were planned as of now.
Oklahoma State perennially runs a pass-happy offense, while Arkansas features more of a power-running attack under former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.
“Oklahoma State’s offense was definitely appealing,” Kelley said. “What quarterback wouldn’t want to throw the ball 40 times a game? But you also have to be able to mix it up too.”
Kelley said the fact that Arkansas is in the SEC was a big plus and the Razorbacks’ fan base also played a role in his decision.
“It’s the best fan base in the country,” he said. “There aren’t any pro teams in Arkansas. Everybody is all Hogs in that state.”
Kelley became a top target for Arkansas after throwing for 3,004 yards on 186-of-316 passing with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a junior for the District 5-4A champion Rebels.
“It (recruiting process) can get old pretty quickly, but it’s the kind of problem you want to have,” said Kelley, who went from football right into leading the Rebels’ basketball team into a playoff season. “You just deal with it. You kind of like getting the attention, so it’s really not that big of a deal.”
He said that Arkansas and Oklahoma State were his two top choices, but he hadn’t determined that he’d be an early commitment prior to arriving in Arkansas.
“I think it’s a good decision for me,” Kelley said. “It’ll take some weight off my shoulders, but really more for others around me. I was going to be focused on the (fall at Teurlings) season no matter what anyway.”