2021 could be the perfect storm for Arkansas to take the next step in respectability in the SEC. They may not receive it from an officiating standpoint but they should be able to gain it from there conference foes.
Sam Pittman put the conference on notice in his first game as the Razorback head coach when they played Georgia, one of the top programs in the conference, to a 10-5 lead in the third quarter. We all remember the Razorbacks didn’t have enough gas in terms of depth last season but that should change.
Obviously, the Razorbacks are led on each side of the ball by junior receiver Treylon Burks and redshirt sophomore Jalen Catalon. Both players left an impact at their respective positions when they made their Arkansas debuts. With four consecutive solid classes in Fayetteville and a competent staff that utilizes the talent well it isn’t out of the realm of things to see the Hogs win enough games for bowl eligibility and to even upset one or two teams throughout the season.
Who might Arkansas depend on for the coming season as it comes to a freshman or newcomer? The first name that comes to mind is Raheim “Rocket” Sanders at running back. Sanders has soared up the depth chart through the first 17 practices in fall camp. He’s been impressive enough to be touted as the second string or 1B running back. Trey Biddy even took time this week as a guest on The Hawg Talk to say that a source told him that “Rocket could end the season with the most carries of any running back.
It’s definitely hard to project what a true freshman might do in the SEC but Sanders possibly could be the next big thing for a Razorback backfield that has a rich history of running backs. At 6’2 225 pounds, Sanders is similar to Knile Davis. The true speed Davis had vertically and horizontally allowed him to allude defenders and turn up the field for eight to ten to fifteen yard carries throughout a game. No, Davis wasn’t much of the workhorse for Arkansas as a freshman but did show signs of explosiveness that season. A year later he helped lead Arkansas to a 10-win season and the Hogs first bid for a BCS Bowl game in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball there’s quite a few newcomers to note as well. One of the most intriguing prospects among them is John Ridgeway. The transfer defensive tackle from Illinois State received a few notable offers around the country including Texas and USC before committing to Arkansas back in the winter.
Ridgeway (6’6 320) has a very quick first step off the line and can even chase down skill players in the backfield. Arkansas will miss strongman Jonathan Marshall who was a force against offensive lineman a year ago. Marshall commanded double and sometimes triple teams to guard him. Ridgeway could be the best possible replacement and make an instant impact for the Razorbacks this season.
In the Redbirds spring 2021 season, Ridgeway had quite the stat line recording 22 tackles and added 3.0 tackles for loss, one interception, one pass broken up and three quarterback hurries.
The Hogs need an anchor for the defensive line and Ridgeway may be the man to fill the void that Marshall leaves. With more four-man fronts watch for Ridgeway to clog some holes and stop opponents running game. That is something the Razorbacks have improved in but struggled at times through the past five seasons.
Who do you think will be a notable newcomer for the 2021 season? Leave a comment below and subscribe to our website for FREE!
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