FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is set to open spring drills on Thursday, March 9, and building quality depth will be very important.
Every good team in the country has impact players who are ready to step in and the team be able to continue success if their number is called. Here’s a look at five such players at Arkansas. The number of such players at Arkansas isn’t limited to five players, but that is just a workable amount for this story.
Rashod Dubinion, RB, Sophomore, and AJ Green, RB, Junior
Obviously this is two such players and not just one. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl showed how important this pair is to the Razorbacks. Leading rusher Raheim “Rocket” Sanders went out with an injury in the first quarter of the win over Kansas. Dubinion and Green stepped in and helped the offense set a bowl record for total offense. The offense rolled up 681 yards including 394 on the ground despite just two carries by Sanders. Dubinion was named the Offensive MVP in the game. He carried 20 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns while catching three passes for 19 yards. Green had 13 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown. He also had four receptions for 30 yards. Both Dubinion and Green are capable of stepping into a game and the offense continuing to roll even without one of the best running backs in the nation. Jimmy Smith has done a great job developing quality depth in that running back room.
Jordan Crook, LB, Sophomore
Crook is going to be one of the best linebackers to play at Arkansas. He started the AutoZone Liberty Bowl alongside Pooh Paul. Crook had a good game in his first collegiate start. He finished with seven tackles, four solo, 0.5 for loss and a quarterback hurry. Arkansas has signed a transfer linebacker and the possibility is they could add another. Crook may or may not start, but even if he doesn’t he can assume the role of Paul this past season. Paul is a perfect example of staying ready and having the perfect attitude. Bumper Pool was hampered by injuries all season and didn’t play the final two games including the bowl. Drew Sanders also opted out of the bowl game. As noted, Crook may start, but even if he doesn’t he needs to do like Paul and stay ready when his number is called. The truth is Pool and Sanders were one of the best linebacker combos in the SEC and when Paul came in there was very little, if any, drop off and that is what coaches dream about. That was a credit to Paul, Michael Scherer, Barry Odom, Sam Pittman and the entire staff to have someone like Paul ready to go. Crook is very talented. In 13 games and limited action as a true freshman, Crook finished with 12 tackles, eight solo, 0.5 for loss and one quarterback hurry.
Ty Washington, TE, Redshirt Freshman
Gone at tight end are Trey Knox and Hudson Henry. Super senior Nathan Bax is back, but the remainder of the tight ends are younger players. Among the younger ones is Ty Washington who redshirted in 2022. He only had one reception, but what a big one that was. He caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from KJ Jefferson in the first quarter of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. That pushed Arkansas to a 17-7 advantage. The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Washington will compete with Bax, a couple of four-star true freshmen and some others for playing time. Washington has very good hands and was impressive in practices last fall. He has the size and hands to make a big impact in Dan Enos’ offense. Enos is known for featuring the tight end much more than Kendal Briles did. That isn’t a knock on Briles, but Enos’ offense simply features the tight end more. Washington will work with Morgan Turner this spring and could be one of the biggest surprises on the team this fall.
Malik Chavis, DB, Redshirt Senior
A versatile Chavis has helped in the Arkansas secondary at most of the positions. He is capable of playing cornerback, safety and the nickel. In 12 games last fall, he had 15 tackles including seven solo. Odom was able to move Chavis wherever he needed him. That versatility and experience will pay off for Marcus Woodson, Deron Wilson and Travis Williams this spring and fall. Chavis started at cornerback against BYU and when he went out due to injury the defense suffered some. Chavis may or may not start, but regardless of that he’s capable of helping wherever needed in the secondary as well as key member of special teams. The former Rison standout has had a solid career at Arkansas. When COVID hit in 2020 Pittman knew the importance of versatility and Chavis is an example of someone you can plug in at A, B or C. He won’t ever be mentioned for All-SEC, but he’s a solid contributor. Players such as Chavis are important to all squads.