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Arkansas' 2015 Recruing Class: Who Redshirts? Who Plays?

Let's take a stab at who might be an immediate contributor and who might redshirt in 2015.

Who's going to play as a true freshman like Alex Collins did?
Who's going to play as a true freshman like Alex Collins did?
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Obviously, we can only guess at who might redshirt out of Arkansas' incoming recruiting class. With seven early enrollees and spring practice yet to begin, much less summer and preseason camp, many things could change.

We certainly hope football's offseason traditions like injuries, arrests, transfers, and other general malfeasance don't infect the players in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks mostly avoided such issues last year and will definitely aim for that again. But for now, we do have a general idea of what the roster will look like, so let's take some educated guesses at who will play this season and who might redshirt.

Since there are no certainties, we'll use a 1-10 scale. 1 being "probably already a starter " and 10 being "probably only play if several catastrophic injuries necessitate it".


Signee: Ty Storey

Already on roster: Brandon Allen, Austin Allen, Rafe Peavey

There are still some who don't want to hear it, but Brandon Allen is going to be the starter in 2015. Bielema has redshirted his true freshmen quarterbacks both years and there's little reason to believe he won't do the same thing this year. My prediction is that Austin and Peavey battle for the back up spot in spring practice even though Storey is already on campus, with the real battle for the starting job taking place next spring.

Redshirt likelihood: 8. Since he is on campus for spring practice and there might be a chance he earns the backup spot, but we're not counting on it.

Running Back

Signee: Rawleigh Williams III

Already on roster: Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins, Kody Walker, Juan Day, Denzell Evans

When Williams announced his return for his senior season, that sewed up another year of the Williams & Collins show in Fayetteville. Day redshirted last season and Walker is a senior, and Evans played in a very limited role last year. Unless Rawleigh comes in and is clearly better than those three it's hard to see him cracking the rotation this season, but could be a major factor next year.

Redshirt likelihood: 9

Wide Receiver

Signees: Dominique Reed, La'Michael Pettway, Deon Stewart

Already on roster: Keon Hatcher, Drew Morgan, Jared Cornelius, JoJo Robinson, Kendrick Edwards, Cody Hollister

One of the most interesting groups on the roster because they were widely regarded as one of the weaker units on the team last year, but Hatcher came on strong by the end of the season, Cornelius showed great flashes of promise as a freshmen, and Robinson - one of Arkansas' more highly rated prospects last year - redshirted so he should be good to go this year. In theory, they should be an improved group.

Redshirt likelihood: Reed: 0 (he redshirted in juco so he'll play if he's eligible. he'd play even if he had a redshirt available though. too much talent). Pettway: 5 (he's already 6'3" and 200 lbs, so he's got the size to play, only question is, you know, freshman). Stewart: 8

Tight End

Signees: C.J. O'Grady, Will Gragg, Austin Cantrell

Already on roster: Hunter Henry, Jeremy Sprinkle

We all know Henry will be the star here. Sprinkle stepped up last season especially after AJ Derby was injured in the last few games, but this trio will have an immediate impact on the roster. When Bielema spoke about them after they all signed he seemed to have pretty specific ideas for using them sooner rather than later, and even referenced the Houston Texans using three tight ends at the same time and they were all his players at Wisconsin. I don't think all three will start but I think they'll all play.

Redshirt likelihood: O'Grady: 3, Gragg: 3 (Gragg might be most likely of the three to redshirt but he's also an early enrollee so he's got a head start on the other two), Cantrell: 3 (most likely to play the the physical fullback/tight end type of role).

Offensive Line

Signees: Zach Rogers (center), Josh Allen (guard), Colton Jackson (tackle), Jalen Merrick (guard/tackle)

Already on roster: Denver Kirkland, Dan Skipper, Brian Wallace, Frank Ragnow, Mitch Smothers, Sebastian Tretola

Another interesting group. Arkansas has some great talent here, and this group of recruits should add some much-needed depth. Rogers, Allen, and Merrick are all on campus and will go through spring practice. That will be big since Rogers was injured in high school most of the last two seasons and Allen did not play last fall since he wasn't officially released from North Carolina until August. How well will they adjust to playing in the SEC after missing so much time? Could Rogers back up Smothers and allow Ragnow to move to guard with Tretola? There's been talk of Kirkland moving to tackle, which would open a spot for Ragnow or Allen/Merrick.  I could see the three early enrollees playing since they'll go through spring practice but probably not starting. Jackson is probably most likely to redshirt.

Redshirt likelihood: Rogers: 5, Allen: 4, Jackson: 7, Merrick: 3

Defensive Line

Signees: Jeremiah Ledbetter, Hjalte Froholdt, Jamario Bell, Daytrieon Dean, T.J. Smith

Already on roster: Taiwan Johnson, Bijhon Jackson, Tevin Beanum, Deatrich Wise, JaMichael Winston, DeMarcus Hodge, Anthony Brown, Brandon Lewis

The storyline here through the offseason will be how to replace Trey Flowers and Darius Philon. Arkansas won't be able to just fill in a couple of new players and instantly get equal production. Fortunately, the Hogs do have a number of players who are capable of stepping in and playing along the defensive line. One of the deepest groups on the roster. Ledbetter is a juco, so he doesn't have a redshirt to use and will play at defensive end. He's also on campus now and will go through spring practice, along with Froholdt and Dean. The Hogs have to be hoping Ledbetter is a starter quickly, and I'd look for Froholdt to play this year. Bell probably also has a shot.

Redshirt likelihood: Ledbetter: 0, Froholdt: 2, Bell: 4, Dean: 7, Smith: 8


Signees: Derrick Graham, Kendrick Jackson, Dre Greenlaw (probably)

Already on roster: Brooks Ellis, Josh Williams, Randy Ramsey, Khalia Hackett, Dwayne Eugene

It seems like forever since Arkansas has had much depth at linebacker. They should have a chance to really start building it now that there are no senior linebackers on the roster. It will be interesting to see if Arkansas even really has a chance to redshirt any of the three freshmen. Ramsey, Hackett, and Eugene all played as freshmen out of necessity. It's unfortunate that none of the three were able to enroll early because they'll likely see the field. Everyone seems to be big on Graham so he's probably most likely to play of the trio.

Redshirt likelihood: Graham: 2, Jackson: 4, Greenlaw: 5


Signees: Nate Dalton, Ryan Pulley

Already on roster: Henre' Toliver, Jared Collins, D.J. Dean, Cornelius Floyd

You'd have to think Toliver and Collins are the likely starters for now as they both had strong seasons last fall. Can Dalton or Pulley earn a backup spot? That's the question. Dean played in all 13 games last year and had 23 tackles and two interceptions. He's a junior and will challenge for one of those starting spots. He could be a starter if Arkansas goes with the 4-2-5 set they often did last year. Floyd played in 9 games as a freshman last year. Arkansas isn't terribly deep here, but does have players to put on the field. I'd bet at least one of the freshmen plays.

Redshirt likelihood: Dalton: 4, Pulley: 5


Signee: Willie Sykes

Already on roster: Rohan Gaines, Josh Liddell, Santos Ramirez, De'Andre Coley

Gaines had a really strong season last year and Liddell did really well as his backup as a true freshman. Coley played in 11 games and had 12 tackles. The coaches have really sung Ramirez's praises on the scout team last year so I expect him to be a significant contributor this season. The Hogs also have some walk-ons that have seen the field like Kevin Richardson, who played in all 13 games last year and had eight tackles. Sykes was a last minute flip so we haven't really gotten to know him so well, but still seems a more likely candidate to redshirt.

Redshirt likelihood: 8


Signee: Blake Johnson

Already on roster: Toby Baker

The Hogs need someone to take over for Sam Irwin-Hill and Johnson was an All-American punter last fall. Makes sense, right?

Redshirt likelihood: 2 (only reason not a 1 is because I'd have sworn Cole Hedlund would take over placekicking duties last year and we know how that turned out. I'd still be really surprised if Johnson wasn't the punter this year).