Hawgs Illustrated


Returning: KJ Jefferson (R-Sr.), Cade Fortin (R-Sr.), Kade Renfro (R-Jr.), Rykar Acebo (R-Fr.)

Early Enrollees: Jacolby Criswell (R-Jr.), Malachi Singleton (Fr.)

Departed: Malik Hornsby (Texas State) There is no quarterback controversy in 2023. KJ Jefferson returns after two seasons as the starter.

But after a season when the Razorbacks struggled to score in three losses with Jefferson injured – including two games when he did not play at all – they should feel better about their backup situation with the arrival of Jacolby Criswell, who backed up ACC player of the year Drake Mayes last season at North Carolina. Criswell, who is from Morrilton, reportedly battled well against Mayes for the starting job.

“Criswell can run,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “He’s got an arm, but he can run and we’re excited about that.”

New Arkansas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Enos has had success coaching dual- threat quarterbacks like Jefferson and Criswell. The spring will be an important time for the quarterbacks to mesh with their new coordinator and his schemes.

“I think KJ and Dan have a really good relationship,” Pittman said. “I think KJ believes Dan can coach him to be not only a better quarterback at Arkansas, but a lot better opportunity to be in the National Football League by understanding pro-type schemes and checks and things of that nature. I think certainly KJ is bought into that. I think they’ve got a really nice relationship. I knew they would, but you’ve got to work on those things.”

After he was hired at Arkansas, Enos drew comparisons between Jefferson and his former two-year Maryland starter Taulia Tagovailoa, who set school records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offense, completions and completion percentage.

Jefferson has been responsible for 67 touchdowns – 48 passing and 19 rushing – and has passed for more than 2,600 yards and rushed for more than 600 yards each season since taking over as the full-time starter in 2021. Enos sees some similarities between Jefferson and other quarterbacks

he has coached, including Philadelphia Eagles starter Jalen Hurts, whose final year at Alabama was spent with Enos as quarterbacks coach.

“I’m a big fan of trying to find comparisons,” Enos said. “One thing I will say is I’ve coached a lot of quarterbacks over the years – this will be my 32nd season coming up as a collegiate coach – and they’re all different. There’s no two the same, and I tell this to the guys all the time, but the great ones that I’ve coached and been around have a lot of similar characteristics.

“KJ is a guy like Taulia and like Jalen, a very good passer and very athletic. It’s actually kind of exactly what you’re looking for, if you really want to put defenses in a bind, is a guy that can beat you with his arm and his brain, but also can beat you with his legs. I’ve been very, very impressed watching the film of KJ …. Studying the tape, it’s been very impressive to look at his skillset.”

Several big name schools offered 4-star signee Malachi Singleton of Kennesaw, Ga. Rivals rated him the fifth-best dual-threat quarterback in his class.

Cade Fortin struggled in his brief playing time last season after transferring from South Florida. Kade Renfro, who began his career at Ole Miss, is rehabbing from a second knee surgery.

Running Backs

Returning: Raheim Sanders (Jr.), Rashod Dubinion (So.), AJ Green (Jr.), Dominique Johnson (R-Jr.)

Late Enrollees: Isaiah Augustave (Fr.) Departed: James Jointer (Liberty) Running back should be a position of strength for the Razorbacks.

Raheim Sanders is coming off an All- SEC season in which he finished second in the league in rushing. He exited the Liberty Bowl victory over Kansas in late December with a lower-leg injury, but Pittman said he is healthy for spring practices.

Rashod Dubinion closed the season with a career-best 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries against the Jayhawks and was named offensive MVP of the bowl win. The shifty back rushed for five touchdowns in 2022 and regularly received praise from Pittman.

AJ Green was third on the team in rushing last fall at 412 yards. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and also rushed for a career-high 99 yards against Kansas.

Dominique Johnson tore the ACL in his right knee a second time in October and should be ready to participate in fall camp, Pittman said. He rushed eight times for 43 yards in four games last season.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Returning: WRs Jaedon Wilson (R-So.), Bryce Stephens (R-So.), Isaiah Sategna (R-Fr.), Landon Rogers (R-So.), Sam Mbake (So.); TEs Ty Washington (R-Fr.), Nathan Bax (R-Sr.)

Early Enrollees: WRs Isaac TeSlaa (Sr.), Andrew Armstrong (R-Sr.), Tyrone Broden (R-Sr.); TE Luke Hasz (Fr.)

Late Enrollees: WR Davion Dozier (Fr.); TE Shamar Easter (Fr.)

Departed: WRs Jadon Haselwood, Matt Landers, Ketron Jackson (Baylor); TEs Trey Knox (South Carolina), Hudson Henry

Arkansas hit the jackpot last offseason when it added Matt Landers (Toledo) and Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma) from the NCAA transfer portal, and it believes it did so again with the additions of Isaac TeSlaa, Andrew Armstrong and Tyrone Broden.

The Razorbacks are looking to replace their top four pass catchers from a season ago and five of their top six. Pittman has spoken highly of the receiver transfers and believes they possess a quality mix of talent and work ethic.

Bryce Stephens is the top returning receiver in terms of catches (9) and yards (109). Jaedon Wilson and Isaiah Sategna combined for five receptions in 2022.

Ty Washington, a tight end, had a 17- yard touchdown catch in the Liberty Bowl and was said to be among the standouts of winter conditioning. Nathan Bax caught three passes for 16 yards in 2022.

Shamar Easter, a consensus 4-star prospect from Ashdown, will arrive on campus in late May or early June, Pittman said. Expectations are also high for Luke Hasz, another 4-star who was rated the No. 3 tight end in the country by ESPN.

Offensive Linemen

Returning: Centers Beaux Limmer (R- Sr.), Josh Street (R-So.), Eli Henderson (R- Fr.); Guards Brady Latham (R-Sr.), Patrick Kutas (So.), E’Marion Harris (So.); Cole Carson (R-So.); Tackles Ty’Kieast Crawford (Sr.), Devon Manuel (R-So.), Andrew Chamblee (R-Fr.), Terry Wells (R-So.)

Early Enrollees: Guards Joshua Braun (R-Jr.), Joey Su’a (Fr.), Paris Patterson (Fr.)

Departed: Centers Ricky Stromberg, Marcus Henderson (Memphis); Tackles Dalton Wagner, Luke Jones, Jalen St. John (UNLV)

This unit will have a much different feel after the Razorbacks fielded a line last season that consisted of four returning starters and five players who had spent multiple years in the program.

Beaux Limmer is expected to make a