Random Razorback Thoughts as Preseason Drills Draw Closer

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Photo Courtesy: University of Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ players will begin practice later this week as the 2021 season draws even closer.

It appeared last spring the players and coaches would be virtually free of COVID concerns for this season, but thanks to a big rise in cases in recent weeks that probably won’t be the case. The Razorbacks are one of the SEC schools that has done a great job with the vaccines which hopefully helps them avoid some of the COVID protocols others may have to go through.

Here’s a few random tidbits related to the football team.

1 and 0

The number one could represent some special players this season. On offense, starting quarterback KJ Jefferson wears one while talented safety Jalen Catalon sports that number on defense. Catalon is up for some awards this season and possibly All-America honors as well. Jefferson patiently awaited his turn at quarterback as the Arkansas coaches brought in transfers in both 2019 (Chad Morris, Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel) and then 2020 (Sam Pittman and Feleipe Franks). Franks worked out and is a big supporter of Jefferson now.

Last season was the first time athletes in football were allowed to wear zero. Last season cornerback Jerry Jacobs sported zero before opting to leave the team. This season a pair of newcomers will sport the zero. On offense, former Tulsa (Okla.) Union four-star running back AJ Green will wear it. On defense, former Little Rock Parkview and Missouri defensive lineman Markell Utsey will have it. Both Green and Utsey are expected to make big impacts this fall.

Those D-line Transfers

Arkansas signed four transfer defensive linemen in the Class of 2021. All are expected to be in the mix for extensive playing time this fall.

The four are redshirt seniors Utsey, 6-4, 295, and Tre Williams, 6-5, 260, from Missouri, redshirt senior John Ridgeway, 6-6, 325, from Illinois State and junior Jalen Williams, 6-3, 305, from Jones (Miss.) College.

Former Seminole on Campus

Former four-star recruit and Florida State wide receiver Warren Thompson, 6-3, 201, is a redshirt junior who is someone the coaches hopefully can make an impact this fall. Thompson was highly recruited out of Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, but never was able to completely put it together at Florida State.

In two seasons, Thompson played in nine games. He caught 11 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. Coming out of high school, Thompson was a consensus four-star recruits. Rivals ranked him the No. 14 wide receiver in the nation while the 247Sports Composite placed him at No. 28 among wide receivers in the country.

Georgia Connection

It was pretty common knowledge when Pittman was hired at Arkansas the Hogs would probably have some very good success recruiting Georgia. He was the popular offensive line coach for the Bulldogs and also hired some assistants with strong Georgia ties.

In the Class of 2021, Pittman and the Hogs didn’t disappoint at all in Georgia. They inked three standouts who all are expected to help early at Arkansas.

The Hogs signed Cedartown safety Jayden Johnson, 6-2, 215, Cordele Crisp County linebacker Chris Paul Jr., 6-1, 240, and Atlanta Tri-Cities defensive lineman Cameron Ball, 6-5, 303, from The Peach State. Grant Morgan was asked about Johnson by a reporter at the SEC Media Days.

“Jayden Johnson, I’ll tell you right now, I don’t like making predictions,” Morgan said. “I don’t make predictions. That kid’s going to be a heck of a football player. We saw it the first day he came on there. He was moving around like he’s played in the SEC for four years already. He continues to just grow and continues to keep his mind on straight and be able to focus on football.

“Hopefully, this name, image, and likeness stuff doesn’t mess with him, which I 100 percent don’t think it will because he’s not that type of kid. He’s going to have a really good career at Arkansas.”

Click here for the new 2021 Arkansas Razorback roster.

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