May 28, 2024

Arkansas football’s 5 biggest positions of need in the transfer portal

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The transfer portal has been open for a little more than a week, and Arkansas football has done well holding on to its most important players.

Landon Jackson, Jaylon Braxton, Andrew Armstrong, Luke Hasz, Cameron Ball and Ty Washington have all announced their intentions to return to Fayetteville next season. Jackson was also a candidate to enter the NFL Draft this spring, but he will finish out his college career before taking the next step.

Arkansas also received a meaningful commitment Monday from former Boise State quarterback Taylen Green. Still, the Razorbacks have had some key departures and need to improve a roster that is 11-14 across the last two seasons.

Here is a look at the five biggest positions of need, and some potential targets Sam Pittman and assistant coaches are already chasing.

Sep 17, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Missouri State Bears head coach Bobby Petrino talks to Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman prior to the game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Line
Arkansas could have held on to every lineman on the roster and this still would be the biggest need. That’s how poorly to position group performed in 2023, with a complete reboot required for Bobby Petrino’s offense next fall.

The reset started with Arkansas replacing former offensive line coach Cody Kennedy with Eric Mateos from Baylor. Now Mateos needs to find two tackles, one center and maybe even another guard in the portal.

More:Arkansas football transfer portal tracker 2023: Who is joining, leaving the Razorbacks

More:What we know and don’t know about Arkansas football’s future offense under Bobby Petrino

The Hogs do already have an offensive lineman committed in Keyshawn Blackstock, who will come to Fayetteville from Michigan State. According to 247sports.com, Blackstock is the No. 2 ranked interior offensive lineman available in the transfer portal.

The next order of business is poaching a center to replace Beaux Limmer and tackles to provide competition for redshirt freshman Andrew Chamblee and sophomore Patrick Kutas. Right guard Josh Braun figures to be the only guaranteed starter, unless left guard Brady Latham pulls a surprise and returns to Fayetteville for a fifth year.

Potential targets: Ethan Miner (North Texas), Fernando Carmona Jr. (San Diego State), Omar Aigbedion (Montana State).

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Defensive Line
This position is still has significant talent returning in Jackson and Ball, but Taurean Carter is in the portal and Trajan Jeffcoat is out of eligibility.

Defensive line was one of the deepest position groups on the Arkansas roster this season. There are some big-time recruits on the way in Charleston Collins and Kavion Henderson, but the Hogs must find experience through the portal to replicate the depth of 2023.

Specifically, Arkansas needs at least one defensive end and one defensive tackle.

Potential targets: Chris McClellan (Florida), Samuel Okunlola (Pittsburgh).

Linebacker
Arkansas has already seen Chris Paul Jr., Jordan Crook and Mani Powell enter the portal, while Antonio Grier is out of eligibility. That leaves Jaheim Thomas, the Hogs’ leading tackler in 2023, as the only linebacker with meaningful experience left on the roster.

The Hogs have high hopes for freshmen Brad Spence, Alex Sanford and Carson Dean, but they need to add a veteran presence to the room. Arkansas’ 4-2-5 scheme under Travis Williams means it might carry fewer linebackers than other schools, but it should still be a priority.

Potential targets: Sam Brumfield (MTSU), Jacoby Windmon (Michigan State).

Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Andrew Armstrong (2) catches a first down pass in front of Florida Gators cornerback Jalen Kimber (8) in the first half at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 4, 2023. [Matt Stamey/Gainesville Sun]
Wide Receiver
Every wideout who caught a pass in 2023 has indicated he will return to Arkansas. Retaining Andrew Armstrong was the biggest win, but the Razorbacks still need more juice at the position.

The best teams in the SEC and across the country have NFL talent at wide receiver. Perhaps one of the wide receivers already in Fayetteville will develop into that kind of talent, but it would be smart of Arkansas to go find a vertical playmaker who can consistently challenge the back end of a defense’s secondary.

Potential targets: Zavion Thomas (Mississippi State), Ja’Mori Maclin (North Texas), Colbie Young (Miami).

Kicker
This one is pretty straightforward. Cam Little bolted for the NFL one year early and Arkansas has a dire need to replace one of the best kickers in school history. The Hogs don’t have a high school kicker committed in this class and no one with reliable experience on the roster.

Pittman and special teams coach Scott Fountain will need to get creative here, with not many quality kickers entering the transfer portal during the offseason.

 

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