During his years at Arkansas, Javontee Herndon has played behind some of the best wide receiver talent to ever come through Fayetteville. The trio of Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright demanded most of the attention (and targets) during his first two years on campus, while last season anybody other than Cobi Hamilton was a secondary option in the passing game.
All four of those former Hogs are now on NFL rosters.
Neither Herndon nor the other receivers at the top of this year's depth chart have that kind of pedigree, but they'll all get chances to shine this season as new QB Brandon Allen looks for a go-to guy. At this early stage, the most likely candidates to fill that role are Herndon and fellow senior Julian Horton -- especially since the departure of Mekale McKay (transfer to Cincinnati) has further depleted the returning depth at the position.
While Herndon's stats don't inspire awe, he has proven himself to be dependable when called upon. He has 31 career receptions for 473 yards after snagging 21 passes for 304 yards and three TDs last season -- including a pivotal TD reception from Brandon Mitchell in the Auburn game.
He stepped to the forefront in the spring game, leading all receivers with 85 yards and six receptions, and added 63 yards and a touchdown on two catches during Saturday's scrimmage. Again, nothing eye-popping, but that's necessary not what's called for from this year's group.
For a variety of reasons, from talent to a shift in offensive philosophy, no one on the current roster will be expected to replicate Hamilton's monster numbers of 2012. But with an inexperienced QB making his first loop through the world's toughest conference, it would be difficult to overstate the value of reliable receivers.
In other words, the Hogs don't need Herndon to be a star, but they do need him to be more than serviceable.