FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas enters summer workouts with a quarterback battle, but not for the top spot.
Fifth-year senior Austin Allen is the clear starter, so the Razorbacks tried to determine who would be his backup this spring. Through 15 practices, though, the "or" between sophomore Ty Storey and redshirt freshman Cole Kelley on the depth chart remains.
"I think definitely right now they're even," head coach Bret Bielema said. "I don't see anything dramatically different between the two."
Bielema said he is pleased with the progress Allen has made vocally and as a leader going into his second season as the starting quarterback. Last year, he completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 3,430 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Although he struggled down the stretch, many experts consider him among the top three signal-callers in the SEC. With a guy like that - a sure-fire starter - coming back, Storey and Kelley have been going head-to-head for the No. 2 job.
"I've just always been a big believer that competition brings the best out of people," Bielema said. "I don't think either one them realistically will say, 'I'm going to go here today and beat Austin out.' So the best way to create that competition is amongst themselves."
Storey was the backup last season and appeared in three games, but many believed that was only so Kelley could preserve his redshirt.
The way Bielema and the other coaches talked, it seemed like Kelley would overtake Storey this spring. However, Storey - a former four-star recruit from Charleston - has improved and Kelley - the gunslinger from Louisiana - is still making the occasional freshman mistake.
"Cole Kelley does a lot of really good things and then he’ll do something that just makes you pull your hair out a little bit," Bielema said. "He is so aggressive and on himself. Everything is so dramatic with him, success and failures."
Behind Storey and Kelley is a group of three quarterbacks competing for the No. 4 spot on the depth chart, which means they likely won't see the field in 2017.
That trio includes a pair of redshirt freshman walk-ons, Jack Lindsey and Carson Proctor, as well as Arkansas' lone quarterback signee in this year's class, Daulton Hyatt, who enrolled early so he could go through spring practice.
"(Hyatt) threw one in the red zone that you can’t throw, but for a freshman that came here in January that should be going to prom on Saturday instead of playing in our spring game, I think he’s doing a pretty good job," Bielema said.
The Razorbacks' season-opener is less than four months away, but Bielema said he and offensive coordinator Dan Enos don't have a timetable set in stone as to when they would name a backup quarterback.
Instead, they'll let the competition carry on through fall camp in August.
"We'll get to fall camp and those guys will get a lot of opportunities to see who can play ahead," Bielema said. "Then at some point we've got to say, 'Hey, if something was to happen, where do we go next?' I don't think I'm ready to answer that right now nor is Dan."