Sam Pittman Talks Extra Year for Seniors, Grad Transfers, Zach Williams and Much More

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FAYETTEVILLE — Following Tuesday’s practice, Sam Pittman held a conference with reporters on Zoom.

Pittman touched on many topics. Among the topics he discussed was sophomore defensive end Zach Williams who played as a true freshman in 2019. Williams played in nine games last fall and finished with 12 tackles, including six solo. Pittman offered up his thoughts on Williams.

“He looks good,” Pittman said. “He’s quick, quick-twitched. He’s done a nice job in there. He’s got some pass rush ability. He’s a really good kid. Strains hard. He’s getting better every day. I like him. Obviously we’d like to put some weight on him. But as far as his effort and what he brings to our football team as far as character, I’ve really enjoyed working with him.”

Williams is listed at 6-foot-4, 246-pounds on Arkansas’ latest roster.

Seniors Getting Another Year

The NCAA ruled last week that seniors in all fall sports can get another year of eligibility regardless of if they play this fall or not. Pittman was asked about that on Tuesday.

“Well, we have some seniors on our team we’re going to try to get to stay, I’ll tell you that,” Pittman said. “The NCAA is thinking about the kids first. The scholarship limits and the finances that it may cost, I’m sure they’re concerned about that. But they’re doing the right thing thinking about the kids first.

“I’m not positive what that’s going to mean as far as are we still going to stay at 85 (schollies) or are we going to get a few more. How institutions are going to pay for that. Those things of that nature. But I think it’s a good deal. If they opt out and are able to come back, of course they get it whether they do or not now. I think it’s probably a good deal and it’ll give a chance for some guys who may not be high on a draft board the opportunity to come back and play again. With the shortened season, I’m sure they did that for everybody, you know, for some of the teams that aren’t playing too. I think it’s fair for everyone.”

While Pittman will try to get some seniors to stay, don’t look for defensive end Dorian Gerald to be back next season unless he changes his mind.

“I mean, it’s cool,” Gerald said. “I didn’t even know that. Honestly, I didn’t know about that. You’re the first person to … I didn’t know. I heard about it.  But I don’t want to come back. If need be, but that’s not the plan. Because I know the incoming freshmen, the high school guys, they need a shot, too.”

Grad Transfers From Non-Playing Schools

Some conferences have ruled they won’t play football this fall. Among them are the Big Ten and Pac-12 and some players at those schools are eyeing possible transfers to play this fall.

UCLA starting offensive tackle Jake Burton opted to enter the Transfer Portal on Tuesday.

Pittman was asked about Arkansas’ interest in any of these type players?

“It’s a really fine line,” Pittman said. “It really is, where right now you would take the transfer. It would have to be a major need for your program. The bottom line is these kids have been working out together for a long time. Ever since we got here. If you bring in a grad transfer in and he’s here in June, or he’s here in January, and he’s part of the team, it’s a little bit different than bringing in a guy right now.

“Obviously, if we had the scholarship number to do it and it was a great player, we wouldn’t be very smart not to look at him. But there’s a fine line in there. He has to really come in and be the right kind of person and somebody that’s going to fit into the football team.”

If so which positions?

“Well, we’d always take a great player probably at any position,” Pittman said. “Certainly I feel like we’re a little thin at tight end, so we obviously moved Eric over there. It’d probably have to be a skill player, somebody that’s dynamic with the ball in their hands for us to do that. And there might be another spot or two. But anytime you say who you’d like to bring in, then you’re offending the guys on your team, and I’m not going to do that.”

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