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Andy Hodges

Questions may abound in spring, but not at wide receiver

While Sam Pittman has said all spring he’s anxious to add the quarterbacks to the running game, KJ Jefferson knows who the playmakers are.

While the White team’s 30-20 win in the scrimmage with concessions Saturday didn’t provide a lot of answers, there are no questions about the wide receivers.

Treylon Burks and Mike Woods have the potential to be the best 1-2 combination in the SEC and Trey Knox may actually be back to what he showed as a freshman in 2019.

Each of them caught just two passes and scored a touchdown.

“Probably not as many as they wanted,” Sam Pittman said later. “We’ve seen them for 14 practices. We didn’t need any more than what they got.”

Photo by Arkansas Communications

And Knox had a pair of catches on both of the plays he was targeted and made leaping catches on both, similar to what got fans excited about his potential in 2019. He just simply caught passes literally on top of poor Hudson Clark on those two plays.

Then there was John David White, the walk-on that looks too small in stature with this group of receivers, but is making plays that Pittman is noticing.

“I love him,” he said. “He can separate in his routes. He catches, he blocks, he’s tough. There’ll certainly be a place for him because he’s earned that.”

In other words, he’s exactly what the Razorbacks need around all these prototype big, tall receivers that have gotten all the headlines.

White had five catches (on six targets) for 87 yards and a touchdown.

They will be catching passes from KJ Jefferson as long as they can keep him on the field because Pittman has said all spring they want to have the quarterback also be able to run on purpose instead of desperation.

After the scrimmage, Pittman almost sounded like he was trying to convince himself Jefferson and Malik Hornsby are the answers at quarterback (and he admitted they will have to have two quarterbacks this season).

Photo by Arkansas Communications

“I’d have to go look back at every throw that he made, but I can tell you this, when I was standing out on the field, I was going, ‘It’d be hard not to like this kid at quarterback,’” he said. “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s commanding and he was on point. As a head coach, I was sitting back there going, ‘I’m damn glad he’s our quarterback.’”

And he’s also high on Hornsby who is fast and a better runner right now than a passer, although he settled down as the scrimmage continued Saturday.

“He was way more accurate that what he had been in the past,” Pittman said. “He had great command of the offense out there. He’ll be a better player when we’re allowed to use the quarterback as a runner a little bit more.”

Jefferson knows the players has catching his passes and the guess here is that gives him confidence. He was Burks’ roommate as a freshman and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has pushed all spring teaching quarterbacks to let them do what they can do.

“Coach Briles is a huge believer in giving guys a chance on the outside and going up and making plays,” Jefferson said. “We’ve got playmakers, so why not give them a chance? I put my trust in those guys. They trust me to put the ball in good spots and they are going to make plays.”

Pittman is obviously putting his trust in Jefferson and Hornsby.

And everybody is trusting a talented group of receivers to make it work.


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