FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt junior Isaiah Nichols leads a group of young, but talented interior defensive linemen at Arkansas for 2021.
Gone from the past two seasons are such interior linemen as McTelvin Agim. T.J. Smith, Jonathan Marshall and Xavier Kelly. Last year Sam Pittman replaced Agim and Smith with Marshall and Nichols in the starting lineup. Kelly was a key reserve after transferring in from Clemson as a grad transfer. Marshall was outstanding and is now off to the NFL. Kelly also opted to enter the NFL Draft instead of return to Arkansas for the extra senior season.
Nichols is the most experienced interior lineman on the team now. He had 24 tackles in 2020, including six solo, 0.5 for loss, 0.5 sack and a pass breakup.
In the early signing period, Arkansas added three interior defensive linemen. The three are Jones College (Miss.) standout Jalen Williams, Vian (Okla.) High School’s Solomon Wright and Atlanta (Ga.) Tri-Cities’ Cameron Ball. All three have the talent to play immediately. Williams will go through spring drills with the Hogs.
Scholarship interior defensive linemen returning are redshirt freshman Andy Boykin, redshirt sophomore Taurean Carter, redshirt junior Nicholas Fulwider, redshirt sophomore Enoch Jackson and redshirt sophomore Marcus Miller.
Carter played in eight games finishing with 11 tackles, four solo and one pass breakup. He saw extensive action and got the start against LSU when the defensive line was depleted due to COVID and contact tracing. Miller played in three games finishing with seven tackles, including three solo.
It seems very likely Nichols starts, but what also will be interesting is who will start alongside him inside. It should be an interesting spring to see if anyone emerges opposite Nichols. Then Ball and Wright will join the mix in the summer and preseason.
Arkansas’ Defensive Interior Linemen
Isaiah Nichols, 6-3, 281, Redshirt Junior, Springdale
Andy Boykin, 6-4, 314, Redshirt Freshman, Lagrange (Ga.) Troup County
Taurean Carter, 6-3, 291, Redshirt Sophomore, Mansfield (Texas) Legacy
Enoch Jackson, 6-0, 298, Redshirt Sophomore, Mansfield (Texas) Legacy
Nicholas Fulwider, 6-7, 301, Redshirt Junior, Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek
Marcus Miller, 6-5, 307, Redshirt Sophomore, Warren
Jalen Williams, 6-3, 310, Junior, Jones College (Miss.)
Cameron Ball, 6-5, 303, Freshman, Atlanta (Ga.) Tri-Cities
Solomon Wright, 6-0, 270, Freshman, Vian (Okla.)