Youth Movement: Four impact true freshmen for the Hogs in 2014
Head coach Bret Bielema made it known on Monday that the freshman class will play a big role on the team this season.
“We’re going to play more freshmen than I have ever played before, Bielema said Monday. “Not out of need, but just because they’re very, very good players.”
We take a look at which true freshman could have the biggest impact on the Hogs’ 2014 season.
WR Jared Cornelius
Of all the true freshman in line to contribute for the Razorbacks in 2014, wide receiver Jared Cornelius may provide the most excitement out of them all. He enrolled early and had the opportunity to participate in spring ball with the team, giving him a semester’s worth of extra reps.
Bielema is particularly excited about this year’s group of receivers, saying they’ll be much better in 2014.
“The fastest guys out of that group would be maybe Jared Cornelius and or Keon Hatcher,” Bielema said. “They’ve caught the ball very, very well. We’ve caught the ball so much more effectively this fall, and in camp especially.”
Cornelius’ combination of speed and size makes him a big-play threat as well. He’s done nothing but impress the coaches since arriving on campus in January. He’s listed as a backup wide receiver and punt returner on the team’s initial depth chart, but I like Corenlius’ chances of impacting both areas for the Hogs.
CB Henre’ Toliver
Toliver’s commitment to Arkansas was one of the biggest in the class of 2014 for the Razorbacks. The Louisiana native was heavily recruited by other programs including Oklahoma and Nebraska. Toliver brings high-end speed and coverage skills to a position of real need. Last season, the secondary was tested often and the Hogs gave up a roughly 235 passing yards per game and only intercepted eight passes, good for 12th in the SEC.
At 6-foot-1, 192-pounds, Toliver also possess good size and strength for a corner and is physically impressive. He’s been impressive in camp thus far and figures to be one of the freshman Bielema expects the most out of this season.
LB Dwayne Eugene
Linebacker was a position last year where Arkansas needed playmakers. Brooks Ellis emerged last season a viable option in the middle and true freshman Dwayne Eugene could be the player the Hogs need at weakside linebacker. At 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, Eugene played safety in high school, but transitioned to linebacker at Arkansas. He has 4.5 speed and could easily play more of a rover position, a blend between outside linebacker and safety.
Eugene will start out behind senior Martrell Spaight on the depth chart at weakside linebacker, but Eugene’s versatility will help him see the field sooner rather than later.
NG Bijhon Jackson
Ultra-quick off the line, Bijhon Jackson should be a force on the Arkansas’ defensive line before too long. Just how much does Bielema like Jackson? He was the first player offered a scholarship by Bielema after he took over the head coaching job.
Jackson was recruited by the big boys of the SEC West, but he wanted to stay in-state. He’s a load at 335 pounds and he should do a great job of eating up space as a nose guard. His game is disruptive and physical, something that will be greatly welcomed on the inside of the line. Jackson’s presence on the line should help open things up for guys like Trey Flowers, Darius Philon and Deatrich Wise.
Honorable mention: Brian Wallace, Frank Ragnow