Heading into the 2019 season, a major question overhanging the Razorback offense is who will take the reins as starting quarterback. At this point, the favorite is grad transfer Ben Hicks, who has thrown for the most touchdowns among all active quarterbacks in major college football (assuming UCF’s injured McKenzie Milton doesn’t qualify as he won’t play in 2019).
Hicks, after all, has the most experience in Chad Morris’ system. But his main competition for the job, Nick Starkel, is coming on strong. Starkel arrived in Fayetteville from Texas A&M in mid May. As is his style, the grad transfer is already making a splash.
Nick Starkel is proving to be the most off-the-field entertaining quarterback in Hogs history. There was that time he asked his 12,000 Twitter followers help him track down a cute 19-year-old waitress at the Hullabaloo Diner in College Station. There was also a more recent time in which he took a picture with his sister and was accused of looking like a “Romanian strip club owner” who goes overboard with the Axe cologne.
And, since he’s been in Fayetteville, Starkel has turned his attention to marriage. While watching an episode of The Bachelorette, he alluded to a classic Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson scene from The Wedding Crashers:
A Razorback fan immediately dogged him for watching the show. “Do you know how many beautiful, available, young ladies are in Fayetteville?,” @thishogfan asked. But Starkel, apparently, is only interested in courting the ladies toward that diamond and lace:
So, if not in Arkansas, where might Starkel be looking for his soul mate?
In that state resides the hyper-photogenic, outrageously talented Sis Bates, likely the best shortstop in college softball. Like Magic Johnson, she’s constantly smiling and clowning while dominating her foes with seemingly little effort. No doubt that’s what Starkel wants, too.
So little wonder he semi-hollered at Bates after seeing her “wife material” highlights package:
Wait. So what does all this have to do with football?
Think about it: Starkel’s hunting for a genetically superior, athletic wife in order to beat their own not-yet-born children at sports. It’s hard to figure out if that’s more hilarious or incredibly competitive.
Whatever it is, it should serve Razorback football well.
Starkel, along with Ben Hicks (and incoming true freshman KJ Jefferson), are a major reason Steve Lassan, college football editor for Athlon Sports, thinks Arkansas could sneak into a bowl game in 2019 if they can pull of an SEC upset or two.
“Chad Morris has significantly improved the quarterback depth chart there. Both Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks give this team a chance to get to four or five wins this season,” Lasson said on That SEC Football podcast.
When it comes to Arkansas’ starter at quarterback, “right now, you have to give the edge to Hicks because he was in spring practice, he’s familiar with this offense from spending time at SMU. But I think Nick Starkel is the most talented quarterback on this roster. And he really never got a chance to show that at Texas A&M because he got hurt one year and then Kellen Mond just took off” last season.
“I think it’s more likely than Ben Hicks starts the year, but Nick Starkel ends up as the starter just because he’s more talented.”
Listen to Lassan break down the Ben Hicks, Nick Starkel and how they have helped Arkansas go from one of the worst quarterback situations in the SEC to one of the best. That part starts at 32:38 mark below:
Best case scenario, Nick Starkel’s carefree attitude helps his Arkansas teammates loosen up and more enjoy the grind of practice and a long season. Worst case, his outspokenness causes a Bret Bielema-esque distraction and doesn’t help the team play better. But since he’s not the head coach, he can easily be replaced.
Likely Hicks, Jefferson or Connor Noland would take his playing time. Simple solution.
Let’s just pray that whatever happens, he never makes another Justin Bieber music video:
Nick Starkel Officially Leaves Aggies, Begins Razorback Career
(The below is a post from May 13)
It’s been a whirlwind last few months for Nick Starkel.
After racking up 1,962 yards passing and 15 touchdowns for the Texas A&M Aggies, the Argyle, TX native announced in January he was transferring. Then, in early March, he delighted Hog fans worldwide by throwing his hat in the ring with Chad Morris and the rising Razorback football program.
Since then, not much has happened on the Nick Starkel news front. While he finished his classes in College Station, Starkel’s top opponent for playing time in 2019 — grad transfer Ben Hicks — took most of the reps in the Razorbacks’ spring practice and Red-White game.
Soon, though, Starkel will join the fray in Fayetteville. He’s set to arrive at the University of Arkansas today. Last week, Starkel graduated from Texas A&M. And Sunday was his last night in College Station. “As tonight is my last night in College Station, I thought I would share all the amazing people that God has blessed me with in my time here,” Starkel wrote on Instagram. “I love all these people here in Aggieland ❤️ and if I forgot you in this I love you too.”
Nick Starkel doesn’t yet have a photo of himself in a Razorback football uniform, though that should change soon.
But he does have a photo of legendary Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson as his Twitter profile picture. Throughout March and April, some Razorback fans had been pressuring Nick Starkel to rep the Razorbacks more on social media and he obliged by choosing a picture of Wilson during his record-setting performance against the Aggies.
In that game, Tyler Wilson threw for a school-record 510 yards to lead Arkansas to a thrilling comeback win against the No. 14 Aggies. This was the third straight win over Texas A&M for the Hogs and, alas, the most recent as well. It’s a performance that has earned a place on the Mount Rushmore of Razorback passing efforts.
Revel in its glory (and the 281 receiving yards by Jarius Wright) here:
In April, not long after the Red-White scrimmage, Tyler Wilson went on the radio show “Hit That Line” to talk to sports radio host John Nabors about the state of the Razorback quarterback.
“One of the biggest components of this offense is having a quarterback that can be mobile and make plays with his feet,” Wilson told Nabors. “That’s something you don’t get to see in a spring game because they wanna keep the quarterbacks healthy and keep guys off of them. We didn’t see a lot of that last year.”
“That was the thing that Ty Storey had over Cole Kelley, was that he had a little more mobility. But he has nowhere near the mobility that either the two guys that we play in this system have. So, I think this year whether that’s Connor Noland, whether that’s Ben Hicks, whether that’s Nick Starkel, all of those guys have more mobility than what we had a year ago.”
As far as what Wilson thought about the profile pic homage Starkel paid to him: “I had a couple people send that to me and say that … I think Nick was probably getting some grief because he hadn’t changed his profile picture in the A&M jersey. So people I think on the Arkansas side were giving him a little grief to change his profile picture. So, he’s gotta go back in time to the last time an Arkansas team could beat the Aggies…”
Read more about what Wilson said about the Razorback quarterback situation, including his thoughts on Ben Hicks, here: