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Sorahan waits for turn to leave mark in Fayetteville

Thursday, August 7, 2003

FAYETTEVILLE -- That California quarterback changing schools like freeway drivers change lanes has become old school at his new school.

Starting year three at Arkansas, Ryan Sorahan of Los Gatos, Calif., is the Razorbacks' senior quarterback. He's outlasted departed quarterbacking teammates Zak Clark and Tarvaris Jackson to be placed in tandem with junior Matt Jones, last year's starter.

Pretty enduring for a quarterbacking gypsy previously accepting mail at the University of California, San Jose State and Foothill Junior College.

"It's been a long journey," Sorahan said. "That's for sure."

Long enough to be mobbed by postgame press in September of 2001 asking instant accounts of his successes and failures and certainly long enough to be a benchwarmer ignored.

"Interviews and stuff don't bother me," Sorahan said. "I'd much rather be playing and having to do interviews than not playing and having people leave me alone."

Either way, Ryan vowed he would stay.

"I knew when I came here I was going to stick it out no matter what," Sorahan said. "There were times I was unhappy, but as far as wanting to transfer, I had done that enough times. It was time to take whatever happens."

What happened became hard to take.

Sorahan acknowledges such, but asserts, "I'm putting the past behind me. I'm not bitter at the coaching staff or anyone. That was then and this is now. As long as I have a good year, I think I'll look back with a good feeling on my college career."

Rushed into play at the expense of Clark (Clark was not given the preseason chance of a normal incumbent), Sorahan had two starts after quarterbacking the winning TD drive in the 2001 opener over UNLV. A back injury during a 14-for-19 showing at Alabama sidelined him a couple of weeks.

When Sorahan returned, Clark (now starring at UCA) and then-freshman Jones had meshed into the pass-run, two-headed quarterback that coach Houston Nutt and new quarterbacks coach Roy Wittke seek now from Sorahan and Jones.

Sorahan didn't play again in 2001.

"It was a hard situation for me," Sorahan acknowledged. "I always thought I'd get another chance at it."

Former quarterbacks coach David Lee seemed too enamored with Jones' fast feet and Jackson's strong arm to give Sorahan much chance at anything in 2002. It wasn't until Jackson had left the team and Jones floundered in Arkansas' inept second half of Music City Bowl loss that Sorahan got more than a bit part. His 6-for-15 for 89 yards included a touchdown versus an interception.

"Playing gave me more confidence I could get in there and do some things," Sorahan said, "though obviously I was disappointed we lost."

Sorahan says he owes Lee for changing his delivery from sidearm to back over the top. Ryan got in the sidearm habit, he believes, from fatiguing his shoulder during extended spring practices at Foothill.

As for Sorahan's past setbacks, welcome to the club. Past UA quarterbacks Freddie Marshall (1964), Scott Bull (1975), Kevin Scanlon (1979) and Mark Calcagni (1985) can commiserate. All were deemed lacking or injured throughout their first four years but starred as fifth-year seniors.

Sorahan explained why without being asked about them but about himself.

"I have a greater appreciation for the playing time I will get," Sorahan said. "I won't take a second of it for granted. Getting shoved from starter to third string, while it wasn't a good thing, I think I have learned from it."

How will Sorahan be applied in this two-QB system?

"I think that's a mystery to everybody," Sorahan said. "I honestly don't have a clue. I don't have a problem with not being THE starting quarterback, though I think every quarterback would want that. But I'll be happy just contributing to the team."

He and Jones, the Van Buren native and Fort Smith Northside alum who seems more laid-back California than his Californian competitor, don't seem to have tension. They'd better not because Jones, a 6-6 basketball leaper, is a wide receiver, too.

"Matt at receiver adds a dimension," Sorahan said. "We get along really well. I always said Matt would fit in in California. He's really laid back and with that long, blond hair looks like he came in straight off the beach from there."

Meanwhile, the real Californian says he talks Arkie.

"One of my friends from back home was up here and said, 'You sound like you are from the South now.',"Sorahan said.

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