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Arkansas Football 2018 Preview: Linebackers

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There’s talent, but is there depth?

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Arkansas vs Virginia Tech Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Main Returners

  • Kyrei Fisher (So, 6’1” 245 lbs.)
  • Dre Greenlaw (Sr, 6’0” 227 lbs.)
  • De’Jon Harris (Jr, 6’0” 244 lbs.)
  • Hayden Henry (So. 6’2” 222 lbs.)
  • Alexy Jean-Baptiste (So. 6’2” 235 lbs.)
  • Grant Morgan (So. 5’11” 220 lbs.)
  • Dee Walker (So, 6’2” 216 lbs.)

Newcomers

  • Andrew Parker (Fr, 6’2” 238 lbs.)
  • Bumper Pool (Fr, 6’2” 223 lbs.)
  • McKinley Williams (Fr, 6’4” 196 lbs.)

Who Else

  • Damani Carter (Jr, 5’11” 248 lbs.)
  • Terrell Collins (So. 6’0” 245 lbs.)
  • Giovanni LaFrance (So. 6’1” 248 lbs.)
  • D’Vone McClure (So. 6’2” 215 lbs.)
  • Derrick Munson (So, 5’11” 200 lbs.)
  • Tyler Pennington (rFr, 5’10” 222 lbs.)
  • Tyler Phillips (Jr, 6’1” 219 lbs.)

One Big Question: Will Any Depth Emerge?

Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris are both quality SEC linebackers. The two led the Hogs in tackles last year by a wide margin and were the only two players on the team to get over 100 tackles. In a conference that consistently puts out NFL level talent at the position, the two have proven themselves, and that’s great for Arkansas. But what happens if they need a breather? Or even worse, one gets hurt?

With Kevin Richardson coming back as the nickel back, Arkansas should see a fair amount of time in a 4-2-5 defense, making Greenlaw and Scoota as the two linebackers on the field. That’s a ton of ground to cover in the middle of the field play after play. For Arkansas’ defense to be more successful in 2018, there has to be more production from this group outside of the main two. Grant Morgan’s 38 tackles last year was a nice surprise last year, and will need to be replicated. Outside of that, Randy Ramsey (moved positions), and Dwayne Eugene (graduated) are the only other two who have picked up double digit tackles in 2017.

The Hogs will look to a handful of guys to help fill that role, including Hayden Henry, Dee Walker, De’Vone McClure, and newcomer with the all-american name Bumper Pool. Hayden, or Hunter’s brother, earned a scholarship after his work on the special teams unit. He led the defense in tackles at the spring game and is in contention for that third starter spot. Walker picked up seven tackles last year (one in each of the final three games), and has cracked most projected two deeps. McClure made the move from offense to defense after his play on special teams, and has had been mentioned by the coaching staff as one of the players that had a good spring and start to fall camp. Pool comes in as the highest rated player in Arkansas’ 2018 class. Between his talent and the positional needs, he looks like the true freshman who could be looking at the biggest role this year.

Arkansas doesn’t need all of these guys to make a Dre Greenlaw type of impact this year, it would be ridiculous to ask for that. However, a couple need to step up to successfully take some of the load off the dynamic duo of Scoota and Greenlaw. If those two are the only ones the team can count on at the position, it’s probably another year of a defense ranked below 100th in the country. If they get some help, than the defense can make the strides necessary to go bowling.