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Five Razorbacks to breakout in 2023

Arkansas heads into spring ball looking to rebound from a 7-6 season. Here’s a few players to watch out for in 2023.

Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Following a disappointing 2023 season, the Arkansas Razorbacks look to make a bounce back after a Liberty Bowl victory over Kansas. 2022 didn’t play out the way a lot of fans expected it to with Arkansas starting off the season with a 3-0 record.

The Hogs will be looking for new leadership on defense, wide receivers to take a step forward and seeing the secondary vastly improve from a terrible season a year ago.

Who are some names to know or breakout this fall? You don’t have to look very far for the first one as Chris “Pooh” Paul moves into a full-time starting role at his linebacker position.

Pooh Paul

Arkansas has seen a very good run of linebacker play that shows no signs of slowing down with the tremendous recruiting and portal additions under Coach Sam Pittman.

Paul had a solid redshirt freshman season in Fayetteville last year recording 62 total tackles, eight for loss and four sacks. The Georgia native is a punishing hitter that doesn’t shy away from contact. He has plenty to live up to replacing Drew Sanders and Bumper Pool in the position room while also learning from Grant Morgan during his redshirt season in 2021.

Taurean Carter

When news broke during spring practice last year that Carter suffered a lower leg injury it would devastate an aleady limited defensive tackle position. With the hiring of Travis Williams from UCF, he will want to move to more of a four-man front on the line so having a tackle back the caliber of Carter is a win for Arkansas.

By the sound of the tweet, the Mansfield, (Texas) native is highly motivated to rejoin his team and help them to a successful season. Carter has the opportunity to play at least two more seasons as a Razorback but a possible third year due to the 2020 Covid year. During his career, Carter has recorded 35 tackles, three for a loss and one sack.

Andrew Armstrong

It’s hard not to be optimistic about Arkansas’ wide receiver recruiting finding diamonds in the lower divisions of college football. There wasn’t many big time receivers during this round of the portal but Armstrong was considered the top player at his position when he announced he would commit to Arkansas in December.

The former Texas A&M-Commerce star was named a FCS all-American after a season where he caught 62 passes for 1020 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 6’4 175 pounds, Armstrong provides a tall redzone target for jump balls but also can burn secondaries with his speed.

“I came to Arkansas to win,” Armstrong told Rivals following his commitment.

Luke Hasz

The state of Oklahoma has consistently given Arkansas several impact players over the past 20 years. Names like Myles Slusher, Felix Jones Keon Hatcher and more have done well as Razorbacks. Now, Hasz is expected to be the next impact player out of the Sooner State.

Out of Bixby, (Okla.) Hasz has the look of a flex tight end who can also split wide at his tight end position. These type of tight ends have become a popular mismatch throughout college football and the NFL over the past decade or so.

There were a host of schools looking for Hasz signature and it looked like Alabama and other schools could possibly flip the top three tight end after Dowell Loggains left Arkansas as tight ends coach for the offensive coordinator positon at South Carolina. However, Hasz chose to remain a Hog over Alabama, Baylor, Colorado, Florida State, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, Miami (FL), Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC, Utah and others accoridng to 247sports.

With a third year starter at quarterback in KJ Jefferson and Dan Enos at offensive coordinator who likes to toss the football around there is no doubt the Razorbacks will be very potent with Hasz and Armstrong in the fold.

Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson

The former Baylor Bear was heavily recruited by Arkansas under the previous regime. Other schools after his services were Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M before heading to Waco.

It was of utmost importance for Arkansas to rebuild their secondary after a very bad 2022 season to say the least. Arkansas’ secondary was injury riddled but did have bright spots including Dwight “Nudie” McGlothern being a shutdown corner on one side of the ball and converted receiver Quincey McAdoo emerging the same way as a true freshman.

The Hogs have new blood in the defensive back room with Deron Wilson and Marcus Woodson taking over for Barry Odom and Dominique Bowman.

Johnson had his most productive year in college during the 2022 season recording 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and 5 pass break-ups.

Antonio Grier

Another defensive player. Are we starting to see a specific trend here? Absolutely! The defense was dreadful on the backend but the work the front seven did last season and while under Pittman has been consistent during his tenure.

Grier is kind of a throwback linebacker touting the neck roll that was seen on so many players in the 80s and 90s. He recorded a career high 85 tackles during the 2021 season and was set to really breakout last year until he suffered a season ending hand injury.

New defensive coordinator, Travis Williams favors the smaller linebackers with speed and Grier definitely fits the mold at 6’1 215 pounds. He has similar onfield experience to the likes of Bumper Pool, Brooks Ellis and Burlsworth Trophy winner Grant Morgan.

Arkansas is set to begin spring practice on March 9, 2023 at 3:45 pm. Fans hoping to get their first look at the new Hogs can attend the traditonal Red-White Spring Game that will be played in Razorback Stadium on Saturday, April 15 at high noon and free of admission.

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