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Friday, February 23, 2024

Ty’s Story: Former Charleston Great Ty Storey Returns to Razorback Stadium to Play His Former Team, Part 1


Note to Readers: This is part one of a five part series on Ty Storey’s return to Fayetteville to play against his former team as quarterback of Western Kentucky University. The series will conclude on November 10, the day after the Razorbacks game with Western Kentucky. The Resident Press would like to thank Ty Storey, Steve Cox, the University of Arkansas, the University of Tulsa, Western Kentucky University, and others for making this series possible.

On Saturday, November 9, former Charleston and Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Ty Storey will return to Fayetteville as quarterback of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Razorbacks play Western Kentucky at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium, and after having transferred from Arkansas last spring, Ty Storey will face his former teammates.

As intriguing as this match-up is, it is not the first time a former Charleston great has returned to Fayetteville to play against his former team. In 1976, albeit in reverse of Storey’s circumstances, former Charleston football player Steve Cox enrolled at the University of Tulsa. Although he had hoped to play for the Razorbacks, he was not recruited by Arkansas. The Razorbacks had All-American kicker and punter Steve Little, and Little had two years remaining on his eligibility. The Razorbacks wanted Cox to walk-on, but Tulsa had recruited Cox aggressively, and Cox chose Tulsa as a place where he could play immediately. As irony would have it, Tulsa played Arkansas his freshman year in 1976. On that September day, Cox kicked three field goals against the Razorbacks to defeat Arkansas 9-3. In 1977, he would face the Razorbacks one more time. The Hogs and their new head football coach, Lou Holtz, would win that day and it was the start of a season that would be Cox’s last at Tulsa. Cox transferred to Arkansas in the spring of 1978. Due to NCAA rules governing student athlete transfers, Cox sat out of the 1978 season, paid his way to school, and waited until he was eligible to play for Arkansas in 1979. He had two years of eligibility remaining when Arkansas awarded him an athletic scholarship to play for the Razorbacks. Cox played under Arkansas head coach Lou Holtz where he was utilized as a punter, a kicker on kickoffs, and a kicker on long field goal attempts. He and other members of the 1979 Razorback football team were honored at Razorback stadium on November 2 as part of the on-field recognition of the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Razorback team that finished the season as tri-champions of the Southwest Conference and played Alabama in the 1980 Sugar Bowl.

Ty Storey’s journey can best be characterized as the opposite scenario compared to Steve Cox. Storey was highly recruited from Charleston high school after setting multiple school and state records during his career with the Tigers. Alabama, Auburn, Louisville and others recruited Storey. Ty chose the Razorbacks his junior year of high school and was an early enrollee at Arkansas in January of what would have been his senior year at Charleston High School. Ty was an outstanding basketball and baseball player, as well, and he gave up those sports his senior year to enroll at Arkansas in January to get an early start on his academic work and to get an early start in the football program. Ty committed fully to be a Razorback.

According to the 2018 Arkansas football media guide, Ty Storey was “an early enrollee who was a consensus four-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN, Scout, and 24/7 Sports. He was the number 6 pro-style quarterback in the nation, number 3 player in Arkansas, and number 165 in the Rivals250 according to Rivals. ESPN listed him as the number 7 player in Arkansas and number 19 pocket passer quarterback in the country. Storey led Charleston to two 3A state championships, earning state championship MVP as both a junior and a senior. Storey was a member of a third Charleston state championship team as a freshman linebacker in 2011. He ended his high school career with 29 consecutive wins, 12,856 yards passing and 154 touchdown passes. The 12,856 yards passing ranks third all-time in Arkansas, and the 154 touchdown passes ranks second all-time in the state. Storey was named Gatorade Arkansas Football Player of the Year in back to back years.”

Storey was recruited by Bret Bielema, but as the years went by, Bielema was eventually fired and current head coach Chad Morris took over at Arkansas. Storey played in an alternating role at quarterback for the Razorbacks in 2018. He was known for his fierce competitive spirit and his toughness with the frequent punishment and hits that he took behind a very poor offensive line.

At the end of the 2018 season, it was apparent that Chad Morris was focused on bringing in transfer quarterbacks for immediate, short term help, as well as recruiting high school quarterbacks for the long term. Storey entered the NCAA transfer portal in the spring of 2019 and eventually transferred to Western Kentucky University.

And just as fate had it in Steve Cox’s time when the the Tulsa schedule included Arkansas his first year, the Western Kentucky schedule includes a game with the Razorbacks on November 9, and Ty Storey will have the same chance against Arkansas that his predecessor Steve Cox had in 1976. Two Charleston Tigers who seem to have a commonality with history and the University of Arkansas.

This week, Resident Press is publishing a five-part series starting today through Sunday, November 10 chronicling the journeys of Cox and Storey, their parallels and their differences in their transfer experiences, and both to and from the University of Arkansas. The series will document the experiences of both Ty Storey and Steve Cox, and how Razorback Stadium has become a crossroads of destiny for the two Charleston greats. But, perhaps more importantly, it is a story of the people of Charleston, and the important roles they have played in both players’ lives.

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Steve Cox and Ty Storey, and you will not want to miss their interviews. Both players are proud of their Charleston heritage, and both were proud to play for the University of Arkansas. In a time where college athletes do not always behave or seem to appreciate the opportunities that have been given to them, Ty Storey and Steve Cox are a breath of fresh air.

Both players have two things in common; they both played their high school football in Charleston, Arkansas, and both are and forever will be Tigers. One is a story of great success during and after college, and the other is a story that is yet to be written or concluded. “Ty’s Story” will conclude the day after the Arkansas vs. Western Kentucky game and will include game coverage and photos. You will not want to miss it!

Today is the 150th anniversary of the game of college football. On this date in 1869, Princeton and Rutgers played their historic first college football game. Ever since that historic November day, fans of the game have followed their teams and collegiate heroes across this great nation. “Ty’s Story” is about two college football heroes who had their start in the same small, western Arkansas town. It is also about and for the people of Charleston, Arkansas. I hope you enjoy it.

Tomorrow, in the second installment of the “Ty’s Story”, Steve Cox tells his story.

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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