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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Pulaski Academy quarterback Layne Hatcher runs by McClellan defender Damion Martin to score the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter of their 37-36 victory over McClellan in the Class 5A High School Football State Finals on Dec. 2, 2017, at War Memorial Stadium. - Photo by Benjamin Krain

The state's all-time leading high school passer is returning to the Natural State.

Former Pulaski Academy standout Layne Hatcher announced his decision to transfer from Alabama to Arkansas State University on Monday after one season.

Hatcher was to have been a blueshirt at ASU last season, but he received a scholarship offer from Alabama in May 2018. A blueshirt is when an athlete takes part in summer activities with a school and is put on scholarship in the fall or second semester.

Two days after competing in Alabama's spring game, Hatcher entered the NCAA's transfer portal Monday. He redshirted last season as he was behind Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones on the quarterback depth chart. Hurts has since left Tuscaloosa for Oklahoma as a graduate transfer.

Hatcher is pleased to be returning to his home state.

"I've been thinking about it for the last couple of weeks," he said Tuesday from Tuscaloosa, Ala. "There were no issues. Everybody was phenomenal. I felt like it was the best decision for me."

The quarterback added that he will enroll at ASU for the first summer session and plans to be at the Red Wolves' spring game Saturday at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro.

Hatcher's father Greg confirmed to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that his son will be eligible immediately, giving him four seasons to play for ASU since he did not take an official visit to Alabama before signing.

Greg Hatcher said he and his family are excited to see Layne play closer to home.

"I was going to be there [at the games] regardless," Hatcher said. "What it does for the rest of the family, friends and people who know Layne, a lot of people can get to the games. It will be nice to play in your own state."

During his four-year career at Pulaski Academy, Hatcher passed for a state record 15,483 yards and 185 touchdowns. He went 41-1 and won three Class 5A state championships as a three-year starter for the Bruins in 2015-17.

In his senior season in 2017, Hatcher completed 384 of 531 passes for 5,779 yards with 66 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, leading the Bruins to their fourth consecutive state title. He was the Democrat-Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps Offensive Player of the Year.

Hatcher recalled when ASU Coach Blake Anderson told him that he could come back to play for the Red Wolves if the opportunity arose. Less than a year later after signing with the Crimson Tide, that opportunity has happened.

"He was willing to take me back," Hatcher said. "I'm happy to go home."

ASU is looking for a successor to Justice Hansen at quarterback after the three-year starter and 2018 Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year exhausted his eligibility. Junior Logan Bonner and senior Carson Coats are competing for the starting quarterback position this spring.

Hatcher is looking forward to competing for the position in fall camp.

"There's no promises or anything like that," Hatcher said. "I'll get an opportunity to compete. I want to do my best. It's on me. I have to earn everything."

Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo
Pulaski Academy football coach Kevin Kelley and quarterback Layne Hatcher are shown in this file photo.
Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
Quarterback Layne Hatcher completed 384 of 531 passes for 5,779 yards with 66 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, leading Pulaski Academy to a fourth consecutive state title in 2017.

Sports on 04/17/2019

Print Headline: Former Pulaski Academy standout leaving Alabama for ASU

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Archived Comments

  • rampezzyahoocom
    April 17, 2019 at 8:17 a.m.

    The real mystery is why Ala wanted him in the first place (he was never going to develop into a starter), and why he chose to go. Most players, QBs esp, go where they can play over an elite program where they're 3rd string. (Hansen from Okla to ASU for eg.) Hatcher has a chance to play at ASU; the move is intuitive. The decision last year isn't. (I don't fault the sports reporter for not getting to the bottom of this (kids and parents will answer the question or they won't)).

  • Dontcallmenames
    April 17, 2019 at 9:03 a.m.

    And then he needs to be the poster boy to make other Arkansas athletes not betray their home state and stay with Arkansas school all four years!

  • hah406
    April 17, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.

    DCMN is exactly right! Star athletes from Arkansas need to think long and hard before they abandon their home state for someplace like Alabama, Auburn, the Mississippi schools, or anywhere to our west. Your best chance to play and stand out is here at home.

  • MaxCady
    April 17, 2019 at 11:45 a.m.

    I never understood either how he got offered by Alabama, coming from such a small school. Maybe they needed somebody to run the scout team or his daddy made a big donation to the athletic department. @Hah406, Maybe their best chance to play, but not play for a national championship. Keith Jackson ring a bell?

  • GeneralMac
    April 17, 2019 at 12:31 p.m.

    (last paragraph) Hatcher seems to understand he has to EARN his playing time at ASU.

    Hatcher's dad seems to PRESUME his son will be the Red Wolves' QB.

    Bonner is no slouch and Hatcher has to beat him out.

    Not an easy task for someone who has never taken a single snap in college ball ( unlike Hanson when he came to ASU )

  • hah406
    April 17, 2019 at 12:50 p.m.

    MaxCady you are correct. Certain elite players of Keith Jackson's caliber can go anywhere they want. Those players are few and far between. Darren McFadden could have gone to any school he wanted as well. I am saying MOST players in Arkansas are not of that caliber. Those are the one's who need give the decision more consideration and not over-estimate their talent.

  • MaxCady
    April 17, 2019 at 12:53 p.m.

    Rich people always feel entitled, General. Presumes or assumes? I guess they're synonyms.

  • MaxCady
    April 17, 2019 at 1:37 p.m.

    Good point, Hah406. Keith went to OU because they utilized the tight end more than UA did at the time and it worked out great for him. But given the small-minded, insular nature of the state, even he faced some backlash for going out of state, which I don't think was fair to him at all.

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