FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema came to his Thursday evening news conference carrying a pretty clear message for some of his older but inexperienced wide receivers: It’s time to produce.
The Hogs opened 2017 fall camp Thursday and wide receiver remains a position group facing a lot of questions. Arkansas lost almost all of its wide receiver production from last year’s team with Drew Morgan, Keon Hatcher, Dominique Reed and Cody Hollister all out of eligibility.
The only receiver with significant experience returning in 2017 is senior Jared Cornelius, who was the third-leading receiver last year.
Fortunately for Arkansas, it returns senior quarterback Austin Allen. That always helps when there are a lot of new faces in the receiver corps. Another thing for Bielema to be excited about is his class of newcomers. That group includes JUCO transfers Brandon Martin and Jonathan Nance and Bielema singled out freshmen Jarrod Barnes, De’Vion Warren and Koilan Jackson on Thursday just a few minutes after practice ended.
Saying that he knows “some of those upperclassmen don’t want to admit it,” Bielema said he believes Warren — a Monroe, La., native who only arrived on campus in June — might already be one of the five fastest players on the team.
Jackson is the son of College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL tight end Keith Jackson.
After praising the freshmen, Bielema turned his attention to some of the older receivers who have been on campus a couple years but haven’t played much yet. He didn’t name names, but it wasn’t too hard to decipher who he was talking about.
Sophomore La’Michael Pettway has struggled to play much at all since arriving on campus in 2015 and a year ago at this time, found himself in Bielema’s dog house.
Another sophomore — Deon Stewart — has only caught two career passes but has worked with the first team since the spring.
“I tell you what, to some of these older receivers that haven’t got on the field yet, they better wake up and smell the coffee because if they don’t perform right, those younger guys will go right by them,” Bielema said Thursday. “It doesn’t take me long to figure out, you’ve been here three years and you can’t get it right and a guy who’s been here three months can get it right. We’ll make a move in a hurry.”