Arkansas is at the Nevada 35 yard line. Treylon Burks and Trey Knox are split wide to both sides. Mike Woods is inside at the slot. Feleipe Franks in the shotgun, gets the snap, throws to the endzone.....TOUCHDOWN!
Yeah, that is how I see the first drive of the Sam Pittman era at Arkansas going....if that is the season opener. Like I have said before, Arkansas has plenty of weapons on offense to win three of their non-conference games and be competitive in the SEC. Averaging out recruiting scores over the last four seasons going back to the 2017 class with De’Vion Warren and Kolian Jackson the Razorbacks have four former four-star wide receivers and three that are former three-star prospects with an average score of .8960 (according to 247sports Composite. Shamar Nash, Darin Turner are the other two receivers who started on scholarship.
The Hogs also have quite a few receivers that were walk-ons or transfers. Those are Tyson Morris (former walk-on, 2019 scholarship recipient), Kendall Catalon, John David White, Karch Gardiner, Jackson Salley, Peyton Ausley, Harper Cole and Kevin Compton. Needless to say, Arkansas has plenty of help to fill out a summer practice depth chart at receiver this season.
Burks and Knox are obviously your go-to guys at the boundary positions although you can interchange Burks at any position. He has the speed to burn, shifty and sees the field well as we saw during 2019. Last season, Burks finished third on the team in receptions (29), first in yards (475) and yards per catch (16.4). Knox had similar productivity in 2019. He finished fourth in receptions (28), third in yards (385), and second in touchdowns (3).
Offensively, the number one goal should be feeding Burks. Incredible size (6’3 231), huge hands (10 1/4”), he sees the field differently than any other player in the SEC and can be a game changing type of player. It is well known that somehow, someway Burks was unable to find the endzone during the 2019 season. As we saw last season Burks is a a wide receiver first but can also be used as a runner, on reverse, wildcat packages and as a punt and kick returner. In 2019, he recorded a first down and more on every single touch of the football. I anticipate an absolute coming out party with the freedom he will receive in the Kendal Briles offense. Many folks around the state tout Burks as the best player instate since Razorback legend Darren McFadden. If that is going to be the case we should see Burks make a tremendous leap in 2020.
Wide receivers coach, Justin Stepp has an incredible track record as an up and coming position coach with preparing receivers for the next level but also recruiting big time wide receivers. As mentioned earlier in the column, Arkansas’ offense was producing good numbers early in the 2019 season. Arkansas boasts another x-factor on the opposite side of the field at receiver that is Trey Knox. Through the first four games Knox produced excellent numbers for a true freshman. He was an early enrollee and was able to make way into the starting lineup for the season opener. Similar to Burks, Knox will play a vital role in the Razorback offense with his big, tall frame Franks could have a field day with fade routes and jump balls.
Your slot guy will likely be Woods as the starter with Turner and Nash sitting behind him. As I mentioned earlier, Stepp prepares all his receivers to play all over the field so do not be surprised to see his players play multiple positions. Woods has tremendous speed, athleticism and can jump out of the stadium. Under Briles, Woods should be one to watch out for to breakout in 2020.
At tight end, Arkansas will have to be selective in how they use them. They have only FIVE on the depth chart and THREE total on scholarship. Former four-star tight end Hudson Henry looks to continue the family legacy as a redshirt freshman. Two incoming freshman Collin Sutherland and Blayne Toll (converted defensive end) will be the other two scholarship players at their position. Albeit a young group, they are very talented and could bring a different dynamic to the Briles offense. On most offensive plays expect to see a three receiver and one tight end look. Henry is a more polished route runner, has quality speed and blocks well in space. The staff can line him out wide, inside or in the slot position. During his time at Pulaski Academy he was not used much as a blocker but could definitely develop into one under Pittman. With added strength and development at the position his potential could skyrocket a bit.
Finally, Sutherland and Toll should be able to compete for playing time in 2020. Until we are able to see what they can do I will definitely hold off on what I expect them to do this season. Growing up in a hurry will be a possibility but these two are pretty big, athletic players at their position. Coming over from the defensive line, Toll will boast plenty of strength to push guys off the block initially. Toll definitely looks the part of a nasty man so we shall see. On the other hand, Sutherland is a possession type of tight end who has soft hands and enough speed and strength to fight for extra yardage after the catch. His brother, Keaton, was a former four-star offensive lineman also recruited by the Bielema staff but signed with Texas A&M. He later was drafted Obviously, the SEC pedigree is there so the younger Sutherland has an opportunity to be a quality player for the Razorbacks.
2020 Depth Chart
De’Vion Warren/Tyson Morris*
Collin Sutherland/Blayne Toll