HOGS Trying to fill an All-American's shoes
FAYETTEVILLE — The departure of 2021 All-American wide receiver Treylon Burks to the NFL Draft has created increased opportunities and responsibilities for the top pass-catchers on the Razorbacks roster.
Much of the attention this spring has gone to senior Warren Thompson (19 catches, 304 yards, two touchdowns in 2021), sophomore Ketron Jackson (five catches, 97 yards, 1 TD in 2021) and Oklahoma transfer Jadon Haselwood (23 catches, 337 yards in parts of two seasons at OU).
Thompson, a transfer from Florida State, and Jackson said they understand that Burks’ production (66 catches for 1,104 yards and 11 TDs) will not be easy to replace.
“We’re trying to build every day, just trying to build a foundation with consistency and playmaking,” Thompson said. “We’ve got the ability in the room. It’s not left. We’re going to bring that. We’re building every day.”
Jackson, from Royse City, Texas, said Coach Sam Pittman issued a challenge to the wide receivers before the beginning of spring ball.
“He told us, ‘Who’s going to step up?’ ” Jackson said. “We’ve got the talent to do it. It’s just a matter of who’s going to step up. Every day at practice, they’re saying ‘Consistency, consistency, consistency.’ That’s what me, Warren and the others are bringing every day so we can show that we didn’t lose nothing. We’re just stepping ahead.”
Consistency seems to be the key for Thompson, who has recorded Burks-style catches last fall and this spring, but also dropped some he knows he should have caught.
“Focus,” Thompson said. “That’s important ,and that’s what we try to focus on every day. I know I do. It’s important to get your head around and look for the ball and locate the ball and hand-eye coordination. I know I can do better, and I’m going to make that my mission to be better and win a lot of games.”
Thompson came to Arkansas as a walk-on before being placed on scholarship by Pittman.
JACKSON SHEDS ROOKIE STATUS
Jackson (6-2, 209) said he doesn’t feel like a first-year player anymore.
“This spring I wanted to accomplish just being more comfortable,” Jackson said. “Last year I didn’t feel as comfortable playing on the field. I was getting used to my body. I was coming off an injury. I just wanted to get more comfortable and get used to it because I know what role I have to step up and fill. It’s just me bringing it every day, practice getting better day by day.”
Thursday’s workout at Walker Pavilion was the last before Saturday’s 11 a.m. open-to-the-public scrimmage at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“Every day is a game rep,” Jackson said. “We love the fans coming out, but it’s about us getting better every day.”
HORNSBY’S FAST COMPANY
Thompson and Jackson were asked about Malik Hornsby, the backup quarterback so fleet that he’s also practicing some at receiver.
Hornsby beat first-team cornerback Hudson Clark for a 55-yard touchdown catch from KJ Jefferson Thursday.
“Malik brings a lot of explosive plays to the outside, man,” Thompson said. “He’s just fast, like next-level fast.”
Both also touted Haselwood, who on Thursday shed the green no-contact jersey he’s been wearing while recovering from a shoulder injury.
PAUL LEARNS FROM ELDERS
Freshman linebacker Chris “Pooh” Paul, who played the maximum four games allowed while still redshirting in 2021, has advanced to the top linebacker spot behind first-teamers Bumper Pool and Alabama transfer Drew Sanders.
Paul said he learned from Pool and departed senior linebackers Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry last season.
“They got me on the right track and they just kept me there and ever since then I’ve been on a roll,” Paul said. “Playing behind those guys was a true blessing for me.”
MORE 4-MAN FRONTS
Senior defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols of Springdale was asked about the Razorbacks using more four-man fronts to go along with the three-man fronts defensive coordinator Barry Odom mostly relied upon the past two seasons under Pittman.
New defensive line coach Deke Adams is helping in the transition.
“The way he teaches the 3-down, and the way he teaches the 4-down, I think we’ll have a lot of success with both of them,” Jackson said.