Arkansas quarterback situation under discussion | KLRT

FAYETTEVILLE — The situation of the No. 25 Arkansas quarterback is a hot topic after Saturday’s 49-26 loss to now-No. 1 Alabama at Razorback Stadium.

The Tide moved up from No. 2 today as Georgia surprisingly struggled to beat Missouri. Redshirt junior KJ Jefferson is firmly entrenched as a starter and key player for Arkansas. Who’s Behind Him created a buzz when Sam Pittman sent Cade Fortin into the game instead of Malik Hornsby after Jefferson was shot in the head when he was knocked to the ground by an Alabama defender.

“That decision has been made for a while,” Pittman said of Fortin’s insertion into the game. “So he’s our number two quarterback, so we put him in there.”

That decision may have been around for a while, but Arkansas has listed Hornsby as backup quarterback every Monday when the depth chart is released. Fortin passed 4 of 10 for 35 yards on Saturday and had a nine-yard run. Hornsby has not attempted a pass this season. He ran three times for 21 yards and caught two passes for eight yards.

Both Fortin and Hornsby were four-star quarterbacks out of high school. Hornsby signed with the Hogs in the Class of 2020 from Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall High School. Prior to this season, Hornsby had gone eight games without a start. He had completed 5 of 12 passes for 46 yards while rushing 26 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. A lot of talk in the spring was about giving him extended service at wide receiver, but the emergence of multiple wide receivers has seemingly put a stop to the idea that Hornsby is playing a lot of wide receiver.

Fortin signed with North Carolina in the class of 2018 from Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett High School. He played in North Carolina in 2018-19 before moving to South Florida for the 2020-21 seasons. In 11 games at both schools with two starts, Fortin completed 61 of 121 passes for 610 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He had rushed 27 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Right tackle Dalton Wagner spoke about Fortin’s performance on Saturday.

“Yeah, he’s a very confident player,” Wagner said. “It’s fun to have him back there. There are times in practice where Coach Pitt will throw him in a two-minute situation or throw him in a third down or something with those just to give KJ a break and see what Cade can do. And Cade excelled every time his number was called, and he excelled today.

Rocket Sanders also weighed in on Fortin’s game.

“I feel like he played with a lot of confidence,” Sanders said. “And I feel like he’s always ready. In practice, I feel like he’s a good quarterback, just reading him. And I feel like he has well done and that he was ready to come over there.

Arkansas also has two other quarterbacks on campus. Ole Miss transfer Kade Renfro is still healing from an injury that required knee surgery. Former Jonesboro star Rykar Acebo is a true freshman. Both are extras, just like Fortin.

Arkansas has a class of 2023 commitment from four-star Kennesaw (Ga.) Malachi Singleton of North Cobb, 6-1, 225. Singleton underwent foot surgery earlier this fall and has yet to resume his activities. He was at Saturday’s game against the Tide.

Singleton is a true dual-threat quarterback like Jefferson. So far in his North Cobb career, Singleton has completed 317 of 461 passes for 40 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He rushed 380 times for 2,325 yards and 53 touchdowns.

Arkansas lost a quarterback to the transfer gate in the offseason when rookie Lucas Coley opted to move to Houston.

This season, Jefferson has completed 80 of 121 passes for 1,006 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception. He is second on the team in rushing with 81 carries for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Pittman didn’t have much to say about the extent of Jefferson’s head injury Saturday after the game.

“He hit his head,” Pittman said. “I don’t know. I don’t know where he is to be honest with you. Obviously we didn’t bring him back. I don’t know more than that.

The Hogs will face No. 23 Mississippi State on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Starkville. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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