FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ wide receiver corps has been riddled with bad news as of late.
Senior Jared Cornelius, the Razorbacks’ leading returning receiver, is off the 105-man roster with a back injury. Sophomore T.J. Hammonds, who had been working with the starters, is expected to be out four weeks with a meniscus tear in his knee that required surgery.
It’s not all doom and gloom among the receivers, though. In particular, freshman Koilan Jackson has been a bright spot. Through one week of practices Jackson is turning heads with his athleticism and quick ability to pick up the offense.
“Yesterday, he ran an out route on the sideline, went up one handed and caught it with his left hand,” sophomore Deon Stewart told reporters Thursday after practice.
“He’s been finding ways to get open. He’s definitely stepped up. He has been getting in his playbook. He’s definitely going to get some playing time this year.”
Jackson (6-foot-2, 214 pounds) has worked primarily with the second team, mixing in occasionally with the starters. Senior quarterback Austin Allen has seen a “mature freshman” that may joke around off the field but “means business” during practice.
“He’s in his playbook, he knows what to do, knows where to go,” Allen said. “Of course, he’s going to have some freshman mistakes obviously as we keep installing. But I’ve been impressed with how well he’s caught the ball, how well he’s blocked in the run game.
“He just kind of has a savvy feel about him, knowing [coverages] and things like that. As he gets older, the better he’ll become. I’ve got a feeling he’s going to play a little bit for us this year and really help us out. The sky is the limit for him.”
It’s early enough Jackson should still be viewed as a possible redshirt candidate. But if he continues to make plays, or those in front of him continue to go down with injury, Jackson will definitely play.
In the event he carves out a role, the Little Rock, Arkansas, native will likely see his first action in his hometown. Arkansas opens the season Aug. 31 against Florida A&M at War Memorial Stadium.
Editor’s note: A pervious version of this story stated Hammonds was out indefinitely. SEC Country has since learned from a source close to the situation he is expected to miss four weeks.