NWADG College Football


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12 NWA COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW | 8.28.2022 TOM MURPHY ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETT QUARTERBACK KJ Jefferson looks ready to roll into his junior season weighing around 240 pounds and brimming with confidence. When Malik Hornsby came back from the transfer portal the deal struck by Coach Sam Pittman was to give him a clean shot at the starting job. While Hornsby has taken his reps almost exclusively with the second unit, he has not surpassed Jefferson and his battle to hold off Cade Fortin might be closer than his attempt to climb past Jefferson. Hornsby has clearly improved as a passer and his superior speed hasn't left so he'll hold great value. The South Florida transfer Fortin has looked solid in his first camp with the Hogs. Kade Renfro, the transfer from Ole Miss, continues to rehab from December knee surgery. Jefferson's charge from quarterbacks coach Kendal Briles is to make faster, more efficient reads in the run-pass option game and stick the ball into tight windows. His completion rate was fine through Scrimmage 1. Could Jefferson run for 150 yards less and add 300 or 400 yards to his passing totals? Possibly. RUNNING BACK The Razorbacks appear to have gone from being largely a three-headed beast at tailback to possibly giving 60% of the carries to sophomore Raheim Sanders, at least in the absence of junior Dominique Johnson, whose 5.9 yards per carry led the backs. Johnson, who needed surgery for a torn ACL after the Hogs' Outback Bowl win, will miss a chunk of the season for position coach Jimmy Smith. Sanders has shown the skills to be a complete back as a runner, pass catcher and protector who runs with speed, power and vision. If he stays healthy he should far surpass the 578 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns he amassed last season. AJ Green is in position for a greater load after racking up 227 yards and 4.8 yards per carry. He's an outstanding pass catcher with great speed. Freshman Rashod Dubinion could win third-team status, with Javion Hunt and James Jointer also in contention. The pass protection prowess for that trio needs to improve. WIDE RECEIVER Through the spring, many analysts had concerns about whether there was someone to pick up the slack for Treylon Burks in position coach Kenny Guiton's room. Through the first scrimmage of camp it became clear Jefferson will have no shortage of candidates to emerge as a top target. Transfers Jadon Haselwood, who will work a lot from the slot, and Matt Landers should be the favorites, with top returnee Warren Thompson right behind. Additionally, Ketron Jackson Jr.'s role should rise substantially along with that of Jaedon Wilson. A common trait of those players: They are tall and fast, with Landers standing out on both fronts. The speed of sophomore Bryce Stephens and freshman Isaiah Sategna make them contenders for valuable reps. The coaching staff believes the freshman class of Sategna, Quincey McAdoo and Sam Mbake will turn out big. The Razorbacks peppered their secondary with deep balls in Scrimmage 1, and in the one-on-one segments available to the media, the receivers have won with frequency. TIGHT END Trey Knox looks primed to prosper for position coach Dowell Loggains after learning the position on the fly last year while playing behind Blake Kern. Knox's 20 receptions ranked third on the team and they're the highest among all returners. The senior has put on pounds to reach close to 240 to better handle his blocking assignments. Knox should provide an edge in matchups with safeties and linebackers. Junior Nathan Bax has remained steady in the second spot in the tight end order. Bax brings physicality in his 6-4, 260-pound frame, but he also displayed good hands in ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS POSITION ANALYSIS BY TOM MURPHY See POSITION, Page 14 KJ Jefferson | Arkansas Quarterback File Photo Jadon Haselwood | Arkansas Receiver File Photo

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