NWADG College Football


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18 NWA Democrat-Gazette College Football Preview Sunday, August 27, 2017 Receiver This unit was light on experience, and then senior Jared Cornelius was shelved a couple of days into camp with a tight back. Receivers coach Michael Smith said other people might have concerns about the group, but he doesn't. Cornelius had 32 catches for 515 yards last year, while the rest of the returning wideouts combined for 3 catches for 44 yards. Deon Stewart's knowledge of the offense made him the de facto leader with Cor- nelius on the sidelines. Fellow sophomore La'Michael Pettway, challenged by Bret Bielema on Aug. 1, went on a TD-scoring rampage through the halfway point of camp. T.J. Hammonds looked good in the slot until his minor knee surgery. Redshirt freshman Jordan Jones got off to a big start with multiple over-the-top scores, but drew Bielema's ire after scrimmage No. 2 for resist- ing coaching. Of the junior college transfers, Jonathan Nance accelerated rapidly, while a back injury slowed Brandon Martin. Jones and Koilan Jackson, son of NFL star Keith Jackson, are the freshmen with the greatest potential to contribute now, over Kofi Boateng, Jarrod Barnes, DeVion Warren and Maleek Barkley. Gary Cross and Tobias Enlow could also be in the mix. NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Arkansas receiver Jared Cornelius (front) catches his helmet July 17 during practice on campus in Fayetteville. Positions v Continued from Page 17 Tight end Austin Cantrell, a five-game starter who caught 13 passes for 120 yards and two TDs in '16, has the sec- ond-highest number of catches of the returning play- ers. He's by far the top blocker at the position, while Cheyenne O'Grady has the best hands and ball skills. The battle for the No. 3 tight end between highly rated transfer Jeremy Patton, Grayson Gunter and Jack Kraus has been tight, with Will Gragg also in the mix. The Razorbacks will continue to use multiple tight end sets, so plenty of playing time is available for the players who assert themselves best as camp winds down and the season cranks up. Walk-on Blake Kern also strikes an impressive figure at 6-4, 245. Offensive line The Razorbacks believe a large leap from this group — combined with better blocking from tight ends and fullbacks — will improve production across the board, starting with a drastic reduction in the 35 sacks allowed. Other key numbers that should be better: 61 percent completions, 4.1 yards per carry and 39.8 percent third-down conversions, which ranked 10th in the SEC. Preseason All-SEC cen- ter Frank Ragnow, guards Hjalte Froholdt and Johnny Gibson and tackle Brian Wallace are all return- ing starters, and they're expected to be more physical and more cohe- sive. Colton Jackson gets another run at left tackle and he says he's better prepared. The top reserves will come from a group featuring Jake Raulerson, Zach Rogers, Paul Ramirez, Jalen Merrick and Deion Malone. Freshman Dalton Wagner looked tick- eted for a back-up tackle slot until his foot injury in camp. Much is riding on this group under second-year assistant Kurt Anderson. Ragnow NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Arkansas offensive lineman Frank Ragnow goes through a drill during practice March 28 at the UA practice facility in Fayetteville. See POSITIONS, Page 20

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