Jim Harris: Rafe Peavey Exits Razorback Stage with Class


So, third-year sophomore backup quarterback Rafe Peavey has left the Arkansas squad, and it’s probably the least surprising event of the Razorbacks’ fall camp. If you weren’t already thinking, “hmmmm,” after Saturday’s scrimmage when Peavey was held out so that two other, younger quarterbacks could get more work while head coach Bret Bielema said he didn’t want to have Peavey leading what Bielema called the “development” squad, you haven’t been paying attention the past three weeks.

Peavey didn’t decide Tuesday that he was leaving Fayetteville for his next stop, SMU, he just made it official then. He may have exited spring practices in April saying he was determined to stick it out in Fayetteville and compete for the quarterback job, even as the backup to designated starter Austin Allen, but a lot can change in four months.

A lot can change in three weeks.

It all was further amplified by the head coach gushing several times in recent days about the August play of 6-foot-7 true freshman Cole Kelley out of Lafayette, La.

The odds were already good that either Peavey (listed as 6-2 but probably more like 6-foot) or another backup, 6-3 redshirt freshman Ty Storey, would not stick it out another season at Fayetteville. Storey, out of Charleston, has apparently elevated his game from last year’s practice work, however, when he seemed to lack SEC-level arm strength in passing drills.

Peavey, meanwhile, hurt his back at some point in the spring in the weight room, the head Hog reported. He had minor surgery to correct a problem from that. He was getting in just half the practice time of the other quarterbacks as it was since August drills started, and not a whole lot of scrimmage work in the first full-scale weekend showcase, leading up to last Saturday’s time spent on the sideline. By the way, his dad was there Saturday as well. Rest assured, Jack Peavey was trying to stay on top of things with his son’s chances of playing, here or somewhere else.

An old-timer in Fayetteville who has followed the Hogs since Frank Broyles was coaching told me before Rafe Peavey even signed that he wouldn’t last, and not just because he had been an average small-school quarterback in the not-so-hotbed-of-preps Missouri. Jack Peavey had spent only a brief time with the Hogs way back when before leaving. This sage was right on the mark, as usual. He knows who he is, and kudos again old friend.

Meanwhile, Bielema hasn’t hidden his admiration already for a true freshman’s grasp of college football, saying that Kelley has the command of the team in the huddle and knows where everybody is supposed to be on a play.

Awareness. It’s a trait that seems to be severely ignored by the so-called recruiting experts who go to summer high school all-star “combines” hand out all these stars to supposed phenoms, like onetime five-star quarterback Brandon Harris at LSU.

Once again, the other experts who cover the SEC and fall back on what the recruiting gurus all said about the prep superstars keep waiting for Harris to live up to the billing, placing him among the top two quarterbacks in the league this year. He’ll figure it all out and lead LSU to the College Football Playoff, several are now saying.

But I digress.

We were talking about Peavey. He’ll find the speed of the game more suitable at SMU, and second-year Mustangs coach Chad Morris, a Gus Malzahn disciple, could find Peavey’s footwork more suitable to what he wants to do offensively in Dallas in the American Athletic Conference.

I thought that one attribute might give Peavey a fighting chance as Hog quarterback among the Allens, Storey, Southern Cal transfer Ricky Town and newcomer Kelley and his supposed cannon of an arm. For, if you possess a quarterback who can halfway deliver the ball to talented receivers (and the Hogs are amassing those) and still make the defense account for him because of his running ability, a team can win a lot of games it otherwise might not with a one-dimensional QB.

Alas, that didn’t fit what Arkansas wanted to do offensively, or Peavey wasn’t at THAT level of ability as a passer/runner for the SEC.

One other thing: Arkansas has a 2017 recruiting commitment from quarterback Daulton Hyatt, listed as a 6-3, 180-pounder from Attala, Ala. Why Alabama and Mississippi start their high school seasons now in the middle of August, God only knows; but, nevertheless, Hyatt and his team started the season on Friday. There are highlights available via Hudl.com of his outing. I’m not going to play recruiting guru here, but let’s just say that if I were a quarterback still riding the pine at Arkansas going on three years and I saw this guy coming for next year, I’d probably transfer too.

 * *  *

While I have you here, let me say that I apologize to my faithful readers who have wondered where this byline has been the past few months since college basketball ended, but rest assured there will be plenty more about the Razorbacks in the next few days leading up to the opener vs. Louisiana Tech, as well as regular coverage/columns during the season and into basketball season with Mike Anderson’s Hogs.

I want to tell everyone, if you don’t already know, that after a few years of freelancing here and there, I have taken a full-time job in the communications division of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. I’ll devote the spare time I have on the weekends to coverage here, as well as being part of KTHV, Channel 11’s “Hogzone” for yet another season alongside Mary Dunleavy, Hayden Balgavy, Rick David, Mike Shepherd and whoever else happens to step onto the set following each Saturday’s action. Also, what hasn’t stopped either is my weekly appearance on Channel 11 every Wednesday at 6:50 p.m. discussing mostly Hog happenings or the big sports story of the week in Arkansas. I hope you tune in, follow my podcasts at SportingLifeArkansas.com and also read me at agfc.com, where I’ll be advising the hunters and anglers of the latest happenings in outdoors as well. And you can follow me on Twitter of course @jimharris360

Thanks for reading.

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