FAYETTEVILLE — Isaac TeSlaa wasn’t heavily out of high school and ended up at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
There, TeSlaa, 6-foot-4, 214-pounds, put on a show and showed off his skills at wide receiver. This past season, TeSlaa caught 68 passes for 1,325 yards and 13 touchdowns. For his career, TeSlaa caught 118 passes for 2,116 yards and 20 touchdowns. He owns a 41-inch vertical jump. TeSlaa explained recently why he doesn’t feel he was overlooked in recruiting out of high school.
“Like I wasn’t overlooked,” TeSlaa said. “I don’t blame coaches for not recruiting me out of high school. I mean, I was a quarterback and I didn’t have any film at receiver. Small school, we played the wing-T and I was a quarterback. I mean, I don’t blame them for not seeing the receiver potential in me. But I knew if I put the work in I would be able to produce some numbers, then obviously I balled out last couple of years and luckily the guys here noticed I’m a playmaker and that’s what I’m here to do now.”
While the initial recruiting process for him out of high school wasn’t hectic, the complete opposite is true of when he entered the transfer portal.
“The recruiting process was crazy,” TeSlaa said. “I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t really sure if I was going to hit the portal, but once I did, I was happy that I did. It was kind of slow at first, I had some teams reach out, but eventually I blew up a little bit and I was getting a lot of offers. I was just extremely grateful. I wasn’t necessarily expecting the amount of attention that I got, but ultimately in the end it came down to somewhere I knew it was going to be like family in the receiver room and somewhere I knew I would have the opportunity to come play.
“Obviously there was a great opportunity to come here and then obviously the coaches and everything, I felt great about what we’re going to do as an offense and how they were going to use the receivers, so ultimately in the end it was a hard decision. But I’m extremely happy with the decision I made and no looking back, only going forward.”
TeSlaa talked about how Arkansas is different than where he was in Michigan more than just being a Power 5 school.
“I would say it was a lot different than where I was before up in Michigan to down here in Fayetteville,” TeSlaa said. “I’ve had so many people reach out to me and let me know they’re happy I’m here, even my teammates, especially, welcoming me in, and the coaches. Everybody’s been super welcoming. You know it’s challenging. But we’re all working for one goal. We want to go win some games so that’s what we’re going to go do.”
TeSlaa, like Andrew Armstrong, talked about what has been the biggest challenge early in his career with the Razorbacks.
“Yeah, for sure like he said the playbook,” TeSlaa said. “Obviously it’s a lot bigger than where I was before. There’s a lot more room for creativity. I feel like the playbook, we’ve got an answer for everything. If you’ve got an answer for everything that playbook’s going to be pretty big. So but also with that, just facing a lot of press man. I wasn’t used to facing a lot of that over at Hillsdale so learning the technique, learning how to slow the game down a little bit and how to beat DBs off the line because we’ve got some good DBs here.”
TeSlaa credited Kenny Guiton during the recruiting process as one of the main factors he was considering the Hogs. Now that he’s in Fayetteville, TeSlaa talked about what it’s like to play for Guiton.
“One thing I really like about him is he’s going to make us do things the right way,” TeSlaa said. “We’re going to have fun when it’s time to have fun, but when it’s time to lock in, we’re going to lock in. He’s going to teach us a lot. One thing that I really like is he played quarterback back in the day, so he sees the field in a different way that receivers sometimes don’t see. He sees the field that way and he can teach us things about the defense that we may not even know we can learn.”
TeSlaa, like most coming from high school or another school, talked about when his welcome to the SEC moment came since arriving at Arkansas.
“I’d say for me it wasn’t the workout so much more than like the speed of everything,” TeSlaa said. “The SEC is a whole different level, especially the defense. Just the speed of everyone, even the linebackers. I feel like some of these linebackers are just as fast as I am. It’s crazy learning the speed and how to get off man, like I talked about earlier.”
TeSlaa talked about the strides he has made through the practices thus far entering the final week of spring ball.
“I’d say the more practices we have, the more practices we have under our belt,” TeSlaa said. “It’s less about thinking and more about playing ball. Football is all about just going out and playing. If you’re thinking too much, you aren’t going to do it right and you’re going to mess it up. So just going full speed and making sure you’ve got all the knowledge of the game.”
One thing that has pleased TeSlaa this spring is his weight. He feels like he can play physical at his size.
“Yeah. I’m sitting about 215, 216,” TeSlaa said. “That’s the weight I came in at. That’s the weight I’ve maintained at. I feel like one of my biggest attributes is my physicality and my size. So, I’ve got to keep the weight up and keep the muscle up in order to be able to do that on the field.”
Another plus for Arkansas with TeSlaa is the presence of quarterback KJ Jefferson. TeSlaa is excited to play with Jefferson this fall.
“I love it man,” TeSlaa said. “He’s that dual threat. I knew about, obviously, his running ability. I’ve seen the highlights and everything. Just catching a ball from him, I feel like that thing is always a tight spiral and he’s going to put it in the right spot. It’s been great and I feel like he’s really meshing with all the receivers really well so far.”
TeSlaa and the Hogs will hold the spring game on Saturday at noon. Admission is free.