FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — This can’t be a coincidence anymore. Two hands are required to count the number of foot injuries Arkansas football players have suffered in the last few years.
Keon Hatcher. Cody Hollister. Kody Walker. Jonathan Williams. Mitch Loewen.
Now, Alexy Jean-Baptiste.
All 6 players have sustained a broken foot at some point in the last 2 years. The first 5 are no longer on the Arkansas football roster, eligibility exhausted. Jean-Baptiste is still around. He is a redshirt freshman linebacker from Florida.
But after not playing last year while redshirting, he won’t play this one, either.
“Alexy last week, unfortunately, had a foot, breaking his foot,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. “Similar to some of the ones we had with J-Will, Cody Hollister. He had surgery on Monday. Probably looking at a 4-month recovery.”
Jean-Baptiste was in the rotation at linebacker in Arkansas’ new 3-4. A converted defensive back, the Razorbacks need a linebacker who can cover. Jean-Baptiste could have been that.
Arkansas is already without linebacker Dre Greenlaw this spring, too. He is recovering from — you guessed it — a foot injury. Greenlaw initially suffered the knock last year against Alabama in October, then re-injured the foot in the Belk Bowl and has been unavailable all spring.
He’s not the only one
Jean-Baptiste isn’t the only one out of sorts right now, either.
Running back Rawleigh Williams III is bothered by an ankle injury. Tight end Austin Cantrell has a troublesome knee. And wide receiver Jared Cornelius’ hamstring isn’t 100 percent.
All 3 are starters. All 3 are, actually, among Arkansas’ best players. Williams led the SEC in yards rushing during the regular season. Bielema called Cantrell maybe “the best blocker” he’s had as a college football coach. Cornelius has 74 of the 77 catches Arkansas wideouts have in their career.
Bielema said Williams and Cantrell sustained their injuries during the team’s scrimmage on Saturday and both were minor. Cornelius’ is a little worse, but it isn’t likely something to keep him out forever, either.
What might, though, is caution. With players dropping seemingly everywhere — and some of the best players at that — it’s possible Bielema sidelines them more often than not over the last few weeks of spring practice.