FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas secondary wasn’t very good in 2022 and as one would expect there’s a lot of new in 2023.

Dwight McGlothern returns as a starter at cornerback and Hudson Clark at safety. Due to a car accident, cornerback Quincey McAdoo isn’t playing this season. A few others from last season return including such players as LaDarrius Bishop, Malik Chavis, Jayden Johnson and Jaylen Lewis, but new faces abound back there.

Deron Wilson and Marcus Woodson are coaching the secondary now. On Monday, Wilson explained as the defensive back duties are broken down between he and Woodson.

“I knew that would probably be a question,” Wilson said. “To answer the question, so we meet as a secondary all together. Sometimes he runs the meeting. Sometimes I run the meeting. Sometimes we split up. The reason we run it together is because we’re all one. One voice, whether it’s his voice or my voice. Which if it’s his voice it is my voice and if it’s my voice it’s his voice because we’re on the same page. At times we split up where I may take the corners and he takes the safeties and vice versa. We work as one and make sure we’re always on the same page.

“The reason for doing it. Let’s say he’s upstairs and I’m downstairs at the game, everybody’s used to hearing that one voice or vice versa, if I’m upstairs and he’s downstairs everybody’s used to hearing that one voice and we’re all on the same page.”

McGlothern is going to be one of the cornerbacks. Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson is a candidate to play the other cornerback or move to a safety or the Hog.

“He’s been playing a little Hog, but our mindset for the secondary, period, is kind of like get the best five on the field,” Wilson said. “That’s what the head coach’s mindset is. Who’s the best five? Let’s get the best five on the field so we can put our best foot forward. You don’t want to have one of your better guys on the bench because he’s stacked behind whether its a safety or he’s stacked behind a corner. Let’s get the best five on the field.”

Georgia transfer Jaheim Singleton and TCU transfer Kee’yon Stewart are also viable candidates there.

“So we’ve got a few new guys,” Wilson said. “One of them, Jaheim Singletary, has been really impressive these first four days, getting the defense down, flying around and communicating with the rest of the guys. Same with Kee’yon Stewart, another new guy we have. Just getting them acclimated and he’s doing a good job. Impressive player. Both of those guys are new.”

Singletary was a five-star recruit who played one season at Georgia. Wilson is elated to have him at Arkansas.

“We tell him to continue to learn the defense and communicate,” Wilson said. “He’s a guy, I say he’s been impressive. To get on the field, keep doing what he’s doing, getting better. Keep on elevating, right? Cause if you’re not getting better you’re getting worse. And over these first four days he has been getting better every day. So keep on growing and he’ll be a really good player just as you said.”

Another transfer who didn’t practice in the spring, but is now healthy is former Baylor safety Alfahiym Walcott. He was second-team All-Big 12 honors last season. Walcott is a candidate to play safety or the Hog this fall.

“Another impressive guy,” Wilson said. “You can tell he’s played a lot of snaps before. When he communicates he’s loud. He’s confident. He flies around. He’s a hitter. He can cover. Walcott, Al, he’s a great addition. Glad to have him back.”

Wilson also mentioned some freshmen who were with the team last spring and have continued to grow and make strong impressions.

“When you talk about from a freshman perspective TJ Metcalf, he continues to impress,” Wilson said. “If you walked on the field you wouldn’t even know he’s a freshman with how he communicates, how he talks. He’s impressive. Also another guy, Jaylon Braxton has been having a really good fall camp also. We’re just talking from a new guys and freshman perspective.”

Wilson also talked about the Hog position and who is currently getting reps there.

“The Hog position, yes, Jaylen, Jay-Lew, has been having a really good fall camp,” Wilson said. “Some other guys, we’re in a position where at the Hog we also have AJ Braithwaite. He’s a guy who I failed to mention when we talked about the new guys. Which he’s been impressive also. We’ve got Jabrae Shaw, another new guy, at Hog. We have some guys there. We’re rolling them in and out as we say. We’re still early in camp trying to figure it out but those guys are doing well.”

Clark has played all over the secondary since coming to Arkansas originally as a preferred walk-on. He has since earned a scholarship and seemingly a permanent home at safety.

“With Hudson, he’s a guy that can play all five positions: Both corners, the Hog, uh nickel position or either safety from his intelligence,” Wilson said. “He gets guys lined up. He can cover. Hud is progressing as well.

“Hudson is playing stronger. He has gained weight and corrected some techniques errors within tackling. He has gotten better with angles to the ball. We always talk about near foot and near shoulder. He has gotten a lot better with that.”

Clark weighs 188 now. He talked about what he has done to gain weight and get bigger.

“I think having an idea of being at the position before the season really helped me get to my goals,” Clark said. “I’m still trying to keep my weight up. It’s kind of hard during fall camp. But I think the strength coaches really helped me. They created this thing called breakfast club and we got to go to the Jones Center every day for those guys on it. We got to go eat and they make sure we’re eating good. I think that’s really helped me kind of to just achieve my goals.”

McGlothern came over from LSU and earned a starting spot last season. Wilson likes what he has seen from him thus far both in the spring and first four practices this fall.

“Dwight had a good spring,” Wilson said. “He’s having a great camp. With Dwight’s special talent, he’s coming along as a leader, being more vocal, holding himself accountable. Then holding other guys accountable.

“Starting in the spring he progressively got better throughout the summer. And then after the summer, he’s continued to do it throughout this fall camp.”

McGlothern wasn’t considered a leader last year, but that has changed with a year in the program.

“The transfer portal is probably, what? Three or four years old right now? So we’re all still figuring it out,” Wilson said. “But it’s typical where you’re going into a new environment, and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Then now you’re getting a little bit more comfortable the second year. You’ve been through a spring, you’ve been through a fall camp, and they know you better, and it naturally starts to happen.”

McGlothern agrees that he’s much more comfortable entering this season than last when he was fighting to win a starting spot on a new squad.

“I feel very good coming into this season,” McGlothern said. “I feel like I know what I need to do as a leader now. As a person that’s going into his fourth year. I know coming from my other school I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I’m just trying to be good within the group and make a name for myself for the group. But now, I feel like everything is right with the coaches and what they did in the transfer portal, going to get Snaxx and them. Even though we compete with the receivers, we also compete within our group and loving each other at the same time, and I feel like that’s what we really need.”

McGlothern considered entering the 2023 NFL Draft, but instead opted to return for one more season with the Hogs.

“I wanted to go, but I just knew that the second half of the season I just left so much on the table,” McGlothern said. “And I didn’t realize until I was done. And now that I have another chance, I want to make sure I do everything right. Whenever this spring, whenever we were going through weight room and offseason football, I make sure I take everything serious. Make sure I do all my reps and not miss anything. Whatever Coach Sowders tell us to do, it be so hard. But you just have to get through it. You have to tell yourself, “come on, we can do this.” 

Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday.