FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For the time being, the goal for Arkansas tight end signee Jeremy Patton is graduation.
Patton, a junior college transfer, was expected to arrive on campus in January. However, he failed to graduate from Arizona Western in December. Now the expectation is for him to join the program this summer.
A top-10 junior college recruit in the 2017 class, Patton is considered the favorite to replace Jeremy Sprinkle as the Razorbacks’ primary tight end. He’ll have plenty of catching up to do in order to accomplish that task. Fortunately for the Hogs, coaches are allowed to work with signees over the summer.
“That’s something that we weren’t able to do a few years ago,” offensive coordinator Dan Enos said. “The big thing, though, is we’re going to get him here and get him with (strength coach Ben Herbert) in our weight room and our strength and condition program to get him into condition and into shape. Then (tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr.) will do a great job with him getting him up to speed.”
Lunney says it’s difficult to do much this spring in order to help Patton’s acclimation process. Though he’s signed, there are limitations in place for what the coaching staff, and Patton, can do at this point.
“I’m confident in his football IQ and his love of the game that I think he can get caught up to speed really quickly once he gets all this other stuff taken care of,” Lunney said.
“And so, what’s great about the summer rules now is you can work with them. So it allows you in a situation like this to get a guy and catch him up. I’m pretty confident we can get that done.”
An Arkansas advantage
Though the terminology will be different, Patton coming into a familiar scheme. Arizona Western runs a pro-style offense, using its tight ends frequently as blockers and receivers much like Arkansas.
Patton caught 18 passes for 242 yards and a team-high 6 touchdowns last season. His blocking ability was exceptional in an offense that rushed for an average of 242 yards per game.
“One thing that we’ve been very impressed with about Jeremy thus far is his intelligence, his football intelligence and his ability to learn things,” Enos said. “That was one thing that his junior college coaches really bragged on him about, so I think he can pick it up quickly.”