Arkansas has too many scholarship players, so someone is leaving, but who?
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
These are the sorts of questions that upon my answering, earn me black marks in relations to Arkansas players and coaches. If I choose someone I think may leave and he doesn’t end up leaving, I’m labeled as a hater. The reality is I’m doing my job because it’s a valid question. More than valid, even. It’s a smart question. Ignoring the roster issue Chad Morris has inherited (not a perfect word here) at Arkansas would be doing a disservice. Someone, quite literally, has to exit.
It’s impossible for me to say who. Personal personnel matters are that. Guys make decisions this time of year on their own. We also don’t have access to football players in February, so it’s hard to tell the scuttlebutt without it being outright rumor.
So, to answer the question, I want to look at the depth chart and playing time. And, as of right now, the best I can glean is Arkansas has 91 scholarship or near-scholarship players. Grant Morgan, for example, doesn’t have a scholarship but it’s hard to imagine that’s going to last much longer. More realistic someone leaves Arkansas, gives up theirs and Morgan gets it.
Forgive the formatting here, I don’t want to make this long. Each position will go in order of most to least likely to have an impact this year, with the exception of freshmen who are listed at the very end. It’s a completely subjective order and one might quibble with a position here or there, but it’s the best that can be done right now.
Cole Kelley, Ty Storey, Daulton Hyatt, Connor Noland, John Stephen Jones (5)
Storey is the most likely candidate to leave, though this is not a statement that he will (and I probably would even bet against it). He has two years of college football left and if he doesn’t win the starting job this spring, it’s unlikely he will next year, either.
Chase Hayden, TJ Hammonds, Rakeem Boyd, Devwah Whaley, Maleek Barkley, Maleek Williams (6)
Said it before and I’ll say it again: Arkansas has a load of guys here that want carries and think they deserve carries. The four at the top, especially. Not sure how the ball gets spread among them without someone getting frustrated.
Jared Cornelius, Deon Stewart, Jordan Jones, Jonathan Nance, De’Vion Warren, Koilan Jackson, Brandon Martin, Gary Cross, Jarrod Barnes, Kofi Boateng, La’Michael Pettway, Michael Woods (12)
The first seven listed have potential to make plays this season. None of them are 60-catch guys, but they all have 20-catch possibility. I could see Pettway and/or Boateng exiting. Pettway more likely.
Cheyenne O’Grady, Jeremy Patton, Austin Cantrell, Grayson Gunter, Will Gragg, Jack Kraus (6)
Cantrell, I imagine, doesn’t end up a tight end in this offense. That still leaves a similar issue to the running backs. O’Grady and Patton established themselves as regulars last year, so they’re unlikely. Gragg or Gunter?
Hjalte Froholdt, Brian Wallace, Johnny Gibson, Colton Jackson, Ty Clary, Shane Clenin, Dalton Wagner, Jalen Merrick, Dylan Hays, Noah Gatlin, Silas Robinson, Ryan Winkel (12)
It’s not a deep unit. It’s not an especially talented unit. Needs work. Needs experience. Doubtful any of them go anywhere.
McTelvin Agim, Austin Capps, TJ Smith, Michael Taylor, Jonathan Marshall, David Porter, Jake Hall, Briston Guidry, Armon Watts, Courtre Alexander, Billy Ferrell, Nicholas Fulwider, Dorian Gerald, Isaiah Nichols (14)
The last five are newcomers. Four of them are freshman. Taylor is a senior who didn’t get clear direction from the previous regime. Guidry is a possibility.
De’Jon Harris, Dre Greenlaw, Randy Ramsey, Gabe Richardson, Dee Walker, Derrick Munson, Hayden Henry, Grant Morgan, Josh Paul, Alexy Jean-Baptiste, Giovanni LaFrance, Kyrei Fisher, Jamario Bell, Andrew Parker, Bumper Pool (15)
This seems like the most likely group from which Arkansas will lose players. The team doesn’t run the 3-4 anymore. Some could switch positions. Some could just exit. Morgan isn’t on scholarship, but probably should be. LaFrance and Jean-Baptiste would be the most likely two to leave. In that order.
Ryan Pulley, Santos Ramirez, Kamren Curl, Chevin Calloway, Montaric Brown, Britto Tutt, Nate Dalton, Jordon Curtis, Micahh Smith, Deon Edwards, Korey Hernandez, Ryder Lucas, Jarques McClellion, Reid Miller, Byron Keaton, Joseph Foucha, LaDarrius Bishop, Myles Mason (18)
A defensive back from the 2016 or 2017 recruiting classes (Curtis, Smith, Edwards, Hernandez, McClellion) is the most likely candidate. Lots of bodies and lots of bodies similarly aged.
The biggest problem is there are scholarship guys who will never play. Do they stay and keep the comfort of their scholarship or do they transfer to a smaller school to get playing-time? Morris wouldn’t dare take a scholarship away from a player, so that’s the question it’s going to come down to.