Raise your hand if you expected Jared Cornelius to be the most dangerous receiver on the Arkansas roster.
The youngest of Arkansas Big 5 wide receivers, Cornelius was perhaps the most known of the five. “Known” as in established. The consensus was that he had the ideal frame of a slot receiver and was a sheer lock for 25 catches and about 400 yards. In fact, those were expected to be his totals — good, not great — because of Keon Hatcher, Drew Morgan and Dominique Reed seeing most of the balls on the outside.
Something’s changed, though. Cornelius is more than a jack-of-all-trades. He is, right now, the best slot receiver in the country, according to folks who chart such things.
With 342 yards on 73 routes run, no WR in the nation averages more yards per route run from the slot than Arkansas' Jared Cornelius (4.68) pic.twitter.com/t9xRrl3vlf
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 11, 2016
That’s impressive right there. Cornelius is second on the team in catches (19) and tied for second in touchdowns (4). His 408 yards lead the team and his 21.5 yards per catch lead the conference. J-Red, as he’s affectionately called, is everything it was anticipated Reed would be.
Cornelius is in the midst of three straight 100-yard receiving performances, something that hasn’t been done in about 20 years at Arkansas.
“It’s what I expect from Jared Cornelius,” Arkansas wide receivers coach Michael Smith said.
So, yeah, Arkansas basketball expectations are a thing
I appreciated being asked to be a part of the handful of media members who select the All-SEC basketball teams and predict the order of finish, but, man, it was tougher than I thought.
I turned in my personal list Wednesday around lunch time and realized shortly thereafter there are a lot of Arkansas connections among the SEC’s best. The combined results will be announced shortly and when they are, we’ll cover them. In the meantime, this is how I voted:
Order of finish
14. Missouri — The Tigers are going to be bad again and they’re clearly the worst team in the SEC.
13. Auburn — Bruce Pearl brought in a good recruiting class, including a 5-star player. I just don’t trust them yet.
12. Alabama — Alabama lost one of the conference’s best players in Retin Obasohan and I’m not convinced it doesn’t take a step back.
11. Tennessee — The Vols lost a lot and return a lot. Thing is, what they return are role players.
10. Mississippi State — Ben Howland can recruit. If he gets them to stick around, MSU will be good sooner rather than later.
9. South Carolina — The entire frontcourt is gone, but a pair of good guards in Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice are back.
8. Ole Miss — This is Sebastian Saiz’s team. If he struggles, so will the Rebs.
7. Vanderbilt — Not sure where the scoring will come from, but the Commodores have a big and experienced front line.
6. Texas A&M — Speaking of big front lines, Texas A&M has the best frontcourt in the SEC for my money. Banking on new guys at guard, though.
5. LSU — The most divisive team in the SEC. Craig Victor and Antonio Blakeney are a tremendous duo. Coaching and effort plague the Tigers.
4. Georgia — JJ Frazier is, at worst, the second-best senior in the SEC. Yante Maten provides a tough scorer and rebounder, too.
3. Florida — No stars, but North Little Rock native KeVaughn Allen, who spurned Arkansas, could break out this year as a sophomore.
2. Arkansas — No better nonfreshman duo in the conference than Moses Kingsley and Dusty Hannahs. The junior college guys should live up to the billing. Two of them, anyway.
1. Kentucky – Obviously.
*Malik Monk, Kentucky freshman (an Arkansas target and Bentonville graduate)
*SEC Player of the Year
For what it’s worth, I had a hard time distinguishing between teams 5 through 10. Swap them all around wherever you see fit, ultimately. A lot like last year, this thing is going to be tight in the middle. Count on it.
Staking their claim
Jeremy Sprinkle was supposed to be here, earning midseason plaudits. Austin Allen not so much.
Yet, here they are, Arkansas’ senior tight end and junior quarterback. Sprinkle stayed on the midseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, it was announced Wednesday, and Allen was added to the Manning Award watch list at midseason.
That second one isn’t easy. Most people have a tendency to believe their preconceived notions. Even you granted that Allen is having a good season, which many would, human nature is to compare him to other quarterbacks also having good seasons and were already on the watch list. He’d be unfairly dinged because of it. It’s like the whole thing about preseason polls — we all assume teams are good, start them high and as long as they keep winning, they climb, staying ahead of other teams who are likely just as good, but didn’t start the year ranked.
Anyway, the two deserve it. Plus, Allen earned another honor Wednesday as we here at SEC Country named our midseason All-SEC squad and, yep, Allen is the first-team quarterback over Chad Kelly. Frank Ragnow was one of the offensive linemen, too, for the record.
But can you imagine, two mediocre defenses versus the two best quarterbacks in the SEC this weekend? Mercy, take the over (if, you know, you’re inclined toward such things).
Arkansas’ leading receiver is expected to be fine for this weekend’s game against Ole Miss. Drew Morgan and his team-high 33 catches were back at practice Wednesday and the anticipation is he’ll be good to go, writes our Trent Shadid. Morgan took a helmet right in the lower back and sacrum area in the third quarter of the Razorbacks’ loss to Alabama last week.
Bret Bielema’s emotions got the best of him Saturday when he went off on SEC official Stan Weihe during the game. On Monday, he “guaranteed” Weihe would not officiate an Arkansas game again, but it turns out that was premature, writes our Jason Kersey.
WholeHogSports.com takes a look at Ole Miss and Auburn, Arkansas’ next two opponents, and how both teams will be coming off byes the week they play the Razorbacks. Intriguing.
The Rebels’ game plan Saturday will be to take advantage of Arkansas’ badly struggling offensive line, writes Antonio Morales at the Clarion-Ledger.
- Arkansas’ gymnastics team released its schedule Wednesday. It includes meets against five of the six teams which reached the Super Six last year and seven SEC stand-offs. The Razorbacks made the NCAA Regionals last year.
- The Arkansas women’s basketball team announced season ticket packages on sale Wednesday, as well. Click here for more information. Coach Jimmy Dykes’ team is expected to compete for an NCAA Tournament spot with nine players back from last year.
- The National Hockey League had its opening night Wednesday and if you didn’t know, Arkansas has a hockey team, too. Two of them, actually. They are club teams in Division I and III, but both are top 25 programs. The DI team heads to Fort Collins for games against Colorado State Thursday night and Friday, while D3 heads to Athens for games against SEC foe Georgia the same nights. As a hockey guy myself, I can’t recommend taking in a game highly enough.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
There will be no remembrance of cows in Carroll County.
Last week, I wrote how PETA was hoping to put up a roadside memorial on the Arkansas-Missouri border to honor cows who died in a truck wreck there last month. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Deparment denied PETA’s request, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“Not only are they considered to be a distraction to drivers, but are also a hazard for vehicles that inadvertently lose control and depart from the roadway,” (Director Scott Bennett) wrote. “In addition, a tombstone memorial would interfere with routine maintenance operations.”
Aw, man. I got you, cows.