By Drake Priddy
LITTLE ROCK – Going into the 2023 season, the receiving corps was one of the biggest
question marks surrounding the Arkansas offense.
With a mixture of zero returning starters, incoming transfers, and untested young guys, it makes sense why many Arkansans had speculations entering the season. But when you win 56-13 against a respectable Western Carolina team, there are plenty of opportunities for the unproven receiving corps to put numbers on the board.
Redshirt Sophomore, Jaedon Wilson was the first receiver to show out today by
scoring a 65-yard touchdown on just the second play of the game. Wilson has been
in the mix for a starting spot since the start of fall camp. Today he might have just
secured that spot.
“For me, it’s been more of a ‘put my head down and grind to become one of those
guys,” said Wilson. “I’ve always been wanting to be one of those guys. When I had
the chance, I just put my head down and grinded when I got there”
Wilson was targeted three times today and secured all three passes, contributing
83 yards to the passing attack and his solo touchdown. Including today’s catch and
score, Wilson only had recorded four receptions, but two of those receptions
included two touchdowns.
Wilson showed out today, but quickly to shout out to newcomer Isaac Tesla, to
whom he credits for his touchdown.
“Yeah, I want to give a big shoutout to my man Isaac TeSlaa,” said Wilson.
“Without him, that play wouldn’t have happened. He made a good block out there
on the edge, and I just got around and saw green grass and hit it full speed.”
TeSlaa, a transfer from division II Hillsdale College, has been regarded as possibly
the go to receiver for the 2023 season. At 6’4, 216, and being able to run over 20
miles an hour, TeSlaa has the build to be an elite receiver in the SEC.
TeSlaa gathered three receptions on four targets, contributed 66 yards to the
passing game, and had an outstanding catch in the back of the endzone. It will be
interesting to see how he transitions to SEC play when it comes time to go to Baton
Rouge to face LSU.
Luckily, Kent State and BYU will provide those necessary game time reps for
TeSlaa. The sky is the limit for the Senior transfer, he is expected to make great
contributions to the Arkansas offense.
Redshirt senior, Andrew Armstrong, is a transfer from Texas A&M Commerce that
mirrors TeSlaa nicely on the other side of the formation.’Armstrong, 6’4, 201, is another receiver that has great potential to be an outstanding receiver in the SEC. He is also another guy, who many believe to be another key weapon in the passing attack.
On the day, Armstrong snagged five passes on seven targets, contributed 78 yards
to the passing attack, and recorded a solo touchdown. He already looks like he is
making a nice transition to the Arkansas offense.
Arkansas Head Coach Sam Pitman was very happy about his receivers performed
“…TeSlaa catches everything all the time and Armstrong does too. For them guys
to come from Divison II and come here and do that today … What is today? Well
today is to see a little bit where you’re at but don’t get too excited about … you
know. But today’s about building confidence in the team and confidence in yourself
but more importantly confidence in your teammate. The team already had it, but to
go show it on a Saturday, I think that helps everybody. But I’m proud of those
Going into halftime, KJ Jefferson was 14 for 16 in pass completions, one pass being
thrown short and the other a questionable drop by Armstrong. Overall, that should
show that the Arkansas receivers were catching everything thrown their way.
Jefferson had high praise for his receiving corps after connecting on 18 of the 23
passes he threw today. In total, KJ threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was extremely pleased with their performance…,” said Jefferson. “There’s always
room for improvement, always room to get better, so we all want to go back to the
drawing board and correct some mistakes…and try to be at our best. Their
performance today was outstanding…
“I mean, those guys being able to play fast and understand what the defense is
doing, taking easy access throws and running great routes and stuff like that, I was
extremely pleased with those guys,” said Jefferson. “I was extremely proud of both
of them. Both of them had a touchdown as well. Just having those guys that
consistently…seeing them work over and over and over and then come out here
and showcase their talent and it pays off, extremely proud of them.”
Jefferson also completed his first seven passes to seven different receivers to start
the game. The receiving room might be sounder than many might think.
With that said Arkansas will face Kent State next Saturday, September 9 at
3:00 pm central standard time in Razorback Stadium.