Connor Noland more likely to impact football or baseball first?
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 email@example.com.
Question of the Day: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Connor Noland, the Greenwood (Ark.) High graduate, is set to play baseball and football at Arkansas starting in 2018-19. For Chad Morris’ team, Noland is a 4-star quarterback. For Dave Van Horn’s team, Noland is a 4-star right-handed pitcher. Most see his professional potential higher in baseball, but part of that is simply the nature of the sport.
If Noland were to redshirt, in either sport, he could still play the other sport the same season, no problem. For example, if he redshirts this fall — which seems likely — in football, he could still take the mound for Van Horn in the spring. No problem. The only questions of eligibility come from if he chooses to go pro in one or the other. The same rules would apply to him as they would for any other athlete, even those who play one sport.
With all that out of the way, the quick answer is baseball. There are simply too many bodies in football for him to have to overtake. It’s possible, but incredibly unlikely, a first-year freshman quarterback who didn’t arrive early takes over as the starting quarterback at an SEC team. But, my goodness, that’s so rare. It also might be a dangerous move, considering the difficulties the Arkansas offensive line has had in protecting its quarterbacks the last two years. Not sure that’s an ideal scenario in which Noland should enter.
Baseball would take some effort, too, of course. I’m not saying he would be a weekend starter or anything, but a bullpen arm isn’t out of the question. Arkansas probably will lose Blaine Knight and Isaiah Campbell to the MLB draft; either or both could return, too, but they’re projected to be rather high selections. Jake Reindl, Barrett Loseke and Kacey Murphy are eligible to be drafted, too, but they’re unlikely to go as high — if at all — as the other two.
Either way, there are openings. If it is just Knight and Campbell gone, two guys would have to shift into weekend starting roles. That opens more midweek or high-end bullpen spots. There’s no reason Noland couldn’t slot into one, even if it isn’t as a regular.