Replacing Herndon: Arkansas inexperienced at wideout
It’s always an annual challenge trying to replace an impact player, but in the SEC, coaches are paid to recruit and develop the next standout athlete in fear of the impending hot seat should seasons turn sour.
Over a two-week period, we’ll take a look at a key player loss for each program in the conference and break down that position’s potential replacements. Rest assured, a few of these guys will be household names by season’s end.
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- TODAY: Arkansas
- Friday: Georgia
- Saturday: Ole Miss
- Sunday: Kentucky
- Monday: Texas A&M
- Tuesday: Vanderbilt
- Aug. 13: Alabama
- Aug. 14: Florida
- Aug. 15: Missouri
- Aug. 16: Mississippi St.
- Aug. 17: Tennessee
- Aug. 18: LSU
When the season went south last fall following the Razorbacks’ 3-0 start, quarterback Brandon Allen relied on current San Diego Chargers rookie Javontee Herndon for big plays in the passing game. Herndon caught a team-high 31 passes for 437 yards and four touchdowns as the offense’s only reliable option on the outside.
His numbers seem miniscule compared to other No. 1 receivers, but that’s attributed to being a victim in Bret Bielema’s run-heavy attack and a second-year passer struggling from the pocket.
ARKANSAS’ 2013 receiving production after Herndon
Hunter Henry, TE: 28 catches, 409 yards, 4 TD
Keon Hatcher, WR: 27 catches, 346 yards, 2 TD
Keiro Small, FB (NFL): 19 catches, 128 yards, TD
Julian Horton, WR (NFL): 12 catches, 141 yards, TD
Alex Collins, RB: 11 catches, 63 yards
Jonathan Williams, RB: 7 catches, 72 yards, 2 TD
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE: 4 catches, 68 yards
D’Arthur Cowan, WR (Dismissed): 4 catches, 26 yards
Junior deep threat Keon Hatcher’s the only returning wide receiver who caught at least five passes last season. Hunter Henry, a rising sophomore who will line up primarily at tight end, is an impact player and should see an increase in targets on an offense without many proven playmakers in the passing game outside of Hatcher.
Junior D’Arthur Cowan was slated to see more snaps this fall but he was dismissed in July for academic reasons. Demetrius Wilson, a senior JUCO transfer who is back at full strength after missing all of last season with a knee injury, should fill Cowan’s role.
The depth chart’s uncertain after Hatcher, Henry and Wilson, but there’s several youngsters who will see the field. Bielema spoke highly of freshman Jared Cornelius and sophomore Cody Hollister at SEC Media Days, two players adjusting to the system at a rapid rate.
Another target, redshirt sophomore Eric Hawkins, has great hands and hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass during the Razorbacks’ spring game. He’ll be in the mix as well.
Keep an eye on one true freshman in particular, Jojo Robinson. It’ll take some time to learn the offense as a fall enrollee for the four-star prospect out of Sunshine State power Northwestern in Miami, but he could be a potential impact player by October for the Razorbacks.
Wide receiver’s a position of serious need in Fayetteville and at this junction, pinpointing a productive player after Hatcher and Henry is nearly impossible.