Published June 14, 2012 - 9:43am
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Normally, if any given team loses its top two receivers from the previous season, and a third wideout that was a steady contributor, one might think that squad would be lacking the following year. But Arkansas isn’t the norm when it comes to receivers. The Hogs are three, even four deep at that spot, and will see little to no drop off just one year after losing Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, and Greg Childs. Arguably for the past two seasons, the Hogs have been dubbed WR U.
Arkansas’ most experienced returner is Cobi Hamilton (6’3″ 210 lbs. 4.4). The senior to-be from Texarkana, Texas, was the third leading pass-catcher for the Razorbacks in 2011, and he will be the focal point of Arkansas’ receivers in 2012. Hamilton is big, fast, shifty, smart, and he seems to have sandpaper stuck to his hands because he catches everything thrown his way.
Another of those starters will be sophomore Marquel Wade (5’11″ 185 lbs. 4.3) of Jacksonville, Florida, if he can put his legal troubles behind him and fly right.
Two other potential starters are juniors Julian Horton (6’1″ 195 lbs. 4.4) of Norcross, Georgia, and Javontee Herndon (6’1″ 190 lbs. 4.4), also from Jacksonville. Both Horton and Herndon caught passes for the Hogs last season. Both are very talented, but neither has a lot of expereince.
Sophomore Keante Minor (6’0″ 195 lbs. 4.4) from East St. Louis, Missouri, is another playmaker that has potential, and he should see an increased role in the passing game.
There are five newcomers to the Arkansas receiving corps this fall (one JUCO transfer and four freshmen), and all of them will be given the chance to contribute.
JUCO transfer Demetrius Wilson (6’3″ 185 lbs. 4.4) out of Glendale (Arizona Community College) is the first flanker that comes to mind. Wilson is long, fast, and is an excellent route runner.
Keon Hatcher (6’2″ 205 lbs. 4.4) could very well be the next great receiver for Arkansas. After hauling in 100 passes for 1,610 yards and 20 TD his senior season at Owasso, Oklahoma, this 4-star recruit has all of the tools to flourish in the Razorback offense.
Of the other three signees, I would look for maybe one other to vye for playing time while the other two redshirt. Mekale McKay (6’6″ 195 lbs. 4.4) of Louisville, Kentucky, D’Arthur Cowan (6’3″ 180 lbs. 4.5) of Olive Branch, Mississippi, and Eric Hawkins (6’0″ 175 lbs. 4.25) of Longview, Texas, will fight for playing time.
Arkansas’ tight ends are basically over-sized receivers. Paul Petrino will utilize every position to his advantage, and one huge advantage is senior Chris Gragg (6’3″ 240 lbs. 4.5). Gragg is in the same mold as former Razorback tight end D. J. Williams, who won the Mackey Award in 2010 as the nation’s best TE.
Gragg caught 41 passes for 518 yards and 2 TD in 2011. He is a huge mismatch for opposing linebackers. Look for him to improve on those stats in 2012.
Behind Gragg, the Hogs have a blocking TE, and two highly talented, yet unproven freshmen.
Junior Austin Tate (6’6″ 255 lbs. 4.7) of Harrison, Arkansas, is better suited to block opposing players. The good thing about Tate is that he can actually catch the football.
The two freshmen will be Demetrius Dean (6’3″ 250 lbs. 4.6) of Fayetteville and redshirter Brett Weir (6’5″ 250 lbs. 4.5) of Ontario, Canada. Weir is new to the position and still has plenty to learn. Dean was unstoppable in high school, catching passes from former high school teammate and current Razorback redshirt freshman QB Brandon Allen.
All-in-all, Arkansas should have no trouble matriculating the ball up and down the field with their passing attack, especially with Tyler Wilson throwing the ball to these receivers and tight ends. When you add in the intangibles, such as route running and downfield blocking, you will be hard pressed to find a better receiving corps in the SEC.
In the next Arkansas Breakdown, we will look at the Quarterbacks and Running Backs.