New Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey has had to get use to a couple of new things in his first few practices as a Razorback.
Things like getting in a huddle and getting under center - two things he did not do while leading Charleston to two straight Class 3A state titles and 29 straight wins.
“It was pretty cool,” Storey said of huddling. “It was different, kind of slows it down, let’s you catch your breath a little bit. Definitely different, but it’s cool.”
As was taking snaps from under center instead of being back in the shotgun for Storey, who is able to go through on-campus workouts with Arkansas before the Razorbacks move on to the Texas Bowl workouts in Houston.
“That was definitely a challenge at first,” Storey said. “I worked on it a little bit after practice Saturday. I feel a lot more comfortable with it now. I am still working on it obviously, but I am starting to get more comfortable.”
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema is happy to have had Storey and offensive lineman Zach Rogers around the last couple of days and is hoping to have tight end Will Gragg soon after the NCAA clears his paper work.
“Ty, unfortunately is the only guy that has been cleared,” Bielema said. “ Daytrieon Dean had a shoulder surgery. He could be here with us but he can't practice so it's better that he just stay home and recover.
“Zach Rogers has not been medically cleared,” Bielema added. “He still has an injury he sustained his senior year. Will Gragg we are still waiting on. It's a holdup from the NCAA. Not anything that is his fault or our fault. It's a slow process to get those final transcripts done in time and turned around. Hopefully he will join us some time shortly."
Storey has made an impression on his new coaches.
“The neat thing is to have Ty Storey join us the last couple of days,” Bielema said. “ Seeing the improvement in him from day one to day two it was pretty obvious that he has never really taken a snap under center. So it was kind of neat just to see him evolve and do that and have some success.”
Bielema and Razorback offensive coordinator Jim Chaney knew Storey was a leader when he stepped in his first college huddle.
“The first time Ty came in the huddle, Jim saw the same thing because we talked about it afterward, but the first thing he did was he put his hand on his left shoulder and he put his other hand on his near wideout and he just went in the huddle like he owned it,” Bielema said. “That stuff is born in him. That was an innate quality he just walked in with and that's pretty fun to watch."
Storey, who was 897-of-1,370 passing (66 percent) for 12,860 yards and 154 touchdowns in his three-year high school career, said it was not something that he really thought about before it happened.
“That just kind of came natural I guess,” Storey said. “The guys here have welcomed me and I just wanted them to feel welcomed, too.
“We never huddled in high school so that is something totally new to me,” Storey added. “But I thought we handled it pretty good and they opened me in with open arms. I was really thankful for that.”
Both Storey and current redshirt freshman quarterback Rafe Peavey got of a lot of practice snaps on Saturday due it being graduation day.
“The seniors were involved in graduation so we had about 40 kids that were involved in practice,” Bielema said. “Rafe and Ty took the majority of those reps all day. Obviously both of them are young quarterbacks. Both of them throw the ball very, very well.
“I think Ty in particular it was an adjustment taking a snap under center,” Bielema added. “He had never really done that before in recent history for him. So that was a learning curve. By yesterday he had mastered that already. So it's fun. It's fun to see the older guys interact with them. I think they respect good players and Ty is one of those guys.”
Storey is happy to get in a few workouts with his new teammates.
“It is definitely a great jump start so I don’t have to come in during the spring and start all over,” Storey said. “It is good to just get these few practices in to get used to everybody around me and all this. This is a lot different for me, but fun to look forward to.”
He has certainly noticed the speed of the game is certainly enhanced.
“It definitely is a lot different,” Storey said. “A lot faster pace, a lot more people around. It is definitely a lot different from Charleston. At Charleston, we just had to use what we could and didn’t have much around us. It is definitely a lot different, but a lot of fun to get used to.”
Bielema notes this early practice time is a big advantage for Storey.
“Huge,” Bielema said. “ First you get an understanding of how we do things. From how we behave in our meetings to the way we take the field. Some of you who have watched our practices there are a lot of things not directed by me.
“Like when we start music they know that means we go to flex,” Bielema added. “When I hear a certain horn blow I don't have to say anything. They know that transitions into field goal. It's not a natural thing. You have to kind of learn it. So that part is there.
“And also just to be in the meeting room with your position coach and hear the terms, the phrases, the words - the Hoganese - that we talk about,” Bielema continued. “I remember growing up we all had to year things a couple of times before we got it right and I think that's the same thing as a football player.”
Practicing with the Razorbacks was certainly something new.
“It was more anxiety I think,” Storey said. “I was just trying to get out there and just play football. I am used to playing football, but not used to all the other stuff around me. All the big locker rooms and all that stuff. Not used to that coming from little old Charleston.
“But as soon as I got out there, it seemed like a relief,” Storey said.
Storey talked about how long it had been since he had actually taken a snap.
“Seventh grade, probably,” Storey said. “We took two snaps in my high school career and fumbled on both of them, but scored on both of them so I don’t know how they works. It was a quarterback sneak and it bounced right back up to me and I ran it in.
“…That was definitely a challenge at first,” Storey added. “I worked on it a little bit after practice Saturday. I feel a lot more comfortable with it now. I am still working on it obviously, but I am starting to get more comfortable.”
It was something that he got started on right after winning the state title.
“I thought I did a good job preparing for what it was going to be like,” Storey said. “All this week after the state championship game on Friday - two Fridays ago I guess - I have been working on trying to take some snaps under center trying to get me ready for that and every thing that comes with it.”
He noted that it was the family atmosphere at Arkansas that was a big factor in him choosing Arkansas over Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Oklahoma State among others.
“It is a real family-like atmosphere and that was big for me,” Storey said. “It is all about making you a better person as well as a better football player and I think that means a lot to me. Hopefully a lot of other recruits will look into that and know that is a big part of where you want to go to.”
He was certainly happy to see the improvement from Arkansas this season, but said that did not change his work ethic any.
“It has always been about hard work and I think people understand that and I understand it so I am just going to do everything I can to help this program out and do whatever it takes to win,” Storey said.
He ran the ball on 9 of the last 10 plays of his high school career with the last play being a touchdown pass for the win.
“It definitely wasn’t all about me,” Storey said. “My teammates were a big part of that. The linemen carried us that last drive. We had some big open holes to run through and they really carried us that last drive so it was all about the team and has never been all about me.”
Storey has been able to be in the quarterback meeting room with Chaney and current Arkansas quarterbacks Brandon Allen, Austin Allen and Peavey.
“It’s been real cool, real laid back,” Storey said. “Obviously they are focused on beating Texas and I am just happy to be there to kind of watch how they prepare, how Brandon, Austin and Rafe do their thing. I am real happy to be a part of it.”
Chaney’s sense of humor is something that Storey enjoys.
It helps you relax out there,” Storey said. “That means a lot to me.”
Bielema noted that he recently talked to Storey’s parents about being empty nesters soon.
“He comes from a great family,” Storey said. “Shane, his dad, is an old ball coach and AD now at Charleston. They have raised an incredible kid. It was a learning moment for me who has no children when Shane and Ty and I were sitting there on his official visit, and his mom was sitting there and I said, 'Boy, you've got a different change coming. You're going to be an empty nester here,' and whew, she starts crying. Great move, Bret.
“Shane looks at me and he's like, 'Smooth. Smooth,’” Bielema added. “To me, it's actually warming to see that reaction because sometimes a kid is leaving home and he's just leaving a place where he lived. But when a kid leaves home who understands what that means, usually that transcends into what they feel here.”
Storey was not surprised that his mom was in tears.
“She has cried quite a few times because I am kind of her baby,” Storey said.
He is of the mindset to just get better every day.
“I just go in every day trying to get better and obviously help this team. This week has been all about beating Texas and that is where this team’s focus is at and I understand that. I am just trying to help them accomplish that goal as much as I can and do the best that I can to help me become a better quarterback.”
Storey is obviously giving up the last semester of high school to get a head start on college.
“I definitely will miss the guys back home, some of my friends and family back home, but I don’t think I could do it any other way,” Storey said. “I was just ready to get here and move on with my career and try to make me a better football player and I think this was the best opportunity for me.”
He mentioned that it was a surreal thing.
“It has definitely been a quick transition,” Storey said. “My last test was Thursday and I was up here Saturday. It has been a quick transition, but a cool transition.”
He was asked about his favorite parts of the practice.
“There have been a lot of cool parts,” Storey said. “As much as playing with all these great athletes as much as getting coached by the best coaches in the league I think. It has all been really cool and I am just thankful to be a part of it.”
Storey - mostly known as a passer - ran the ball 35 times for 153 yards in this season’s state title game.
Storey comes into the program at around 215 pounds and doesn’t know what his coaches want him up to yet although strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert will let him know soon.
“I haven’t been in the weight room yet with Coach Herb,” Storey said. “I think that is tomorrow so I guess we will see then what their plans are for me.”
He’s going to use the next few practices to his benefit.
“Probably just get more used to the guys around me, the teammates,” Storey said. “It is a new group of guys and I have never played with any of these guys before. That is one of the bigger things. Just getting use to the speed of these guys, learning more about the terminology.”
Storey Takes Step Up To Next Level
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