Ricky Town didn’t waste any time making up his mind.
Only days after the former blue-chip quarterback prospect elected to transfer out of USC before finishing his first fall camp with the Trojans, ESPN reported Friday that Town has decided he will play for Bret Bielema and Arkansas. 247Sports reported Town took a trip to the Razorbacks’ Fayetteville campus on an official visit this week.
“This is the first time my family had been to Arkansas and it was great,” Town told ESPN. “We fell in love with the place.”
Arkansas made the transfer official with an announcement Friday afternoon.
“Ricky is a very talented young man who comes from a great family,” Bielema said. “We are very excited to have him join our program. Ricky is the kind of uncommon person we are looking for and will fit into our program athletically, academically and socially.”
Town enrolled at USC in time for spring camp but entered fall No. 3 on the Trojans’ depth chart behind senior starter Cody Kessler and redshirt sophomore Max Browne.
Earlier this week 247Sports reported that the competition for Town’s services had already been whittled down to the Hogs and Florida. First-year Gators play-caller Doug Nussmeier had been the offensive coordinator at Alabama when Town committed there in 2013, but despite that connection Town declined to visit Gainesville before deciding on the Hogs.
Town will be forced to sit out a redshirt season in 2015, but will eligible to compete for the team’s starting job in 2016 following the graduation of three-year starter Brandon Allen.
Three things to know about Town’s decision:
1. He becomes the highest-regarded quarterback recruit for the Razorbacks since Ryan Mallett.
There’s precedent for Arkansas reaping the benefits of a blue-chip signal-caller quickly deciding his initial program wasn’t for him. It’s worth remembering Mallett was a five-star prospect who spent a year under Lloyd Carr at Michigan before arriving at Arkansas and eventually guiding the Hogs to a Sugar Bowl berth.
The final recruiting rankings for the class of 2015 meant Town wasn’t quite as highly-regarded coming out of high school as Mallett was, but he wasn’t far off. Per the 247Sports composite Town was the No. 79 overall recruit in the country, the No. 6 pro-style quarterback, and the No. 14 player in a typically loaded class from the state of California.
2. He might be your early favorite to take over the starting job in 2016. Among the three quarterbacks currently backing up Allen, only one — redshirt sophomore Austin Allen, Brandon’s brother — has seen any game time, and none have Town’s top-100 overall recruiting pedigree. After a year of seasoning, it won’t surprise anyone if Town wins the job next year.
But don’t go anointing him the surefire 2016 starter just yet, either. Both Austin Allen and current Hog freshman Ty Storey were four-star recruits in their own right, and Allen has performed well in his limited action, going 3-of-5 for 65 yards against Ole Miss last fall. Maybe Town’s odds of winning a starting job next year are better than they were vs. Browne in Los Angeles, but the depth chart is still too crowded to say anything’s guaranteed.
3. The Hogs could use better play under center. It’s easy to see why Bielema has made quarterback recruiting such a priority: though Brandon Allen has played in the kind of rush-heavy offense that should generate a high level of quarterback efficiency*, Allen finished seventh among SEC starters in quarterback rating in 2014. He should improve in his third year as a starter this year, but if Bielema wants to maintain the step forward his program took last fall despite Allen’s occasional struggles, come 2016 he’ll need a quarterback who won’t need as much development time before punishing opposing defenses for cheating on the Hog run.
*It’s not coincidence that the top four teams in the SEC in yards-per-carry — Georgia, Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama — doubled as the top four teams in team QB rating.
Source: CBS College FB