FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — SEC Country’s countdown of the most important 2016 Arkansas football players has reached the top-five, which means each player moving forward gets their very own post.
As a reminder, these rankings shouldn’t be interpreted as our take on the best players on Arkansas’ roster, but the most important in determining the Razorbacks’ success in 2016.
If we were ranking the best players on the team, though, this guy would have a great case to be No. 1.
5. Deatrich Wise, Sr., DE
Jersey number: 48
2015 stats: 31 tackles, 10.5 TFL, eight sacks, three pass breakups, five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles
Career appearances/starts: 35/1
Wise arguably is the most talented player on Arkansas’ roster, and that is particularly exciting considering the momentum he will carry into his senior season.
In the final five games last year, Wise recorded seven sacks and 19 tackles — for whatever reason — after things failed to click for him throughout his first two-and-a-half seasons in Fayetteville.
Now, Wise is so highly regarded that he is being talked about as a potential first-round NFL draft pick next spring. But before he can even start thinking about those things, he’s got a big senior season ahead of him. If his play is consistently excellent from September through the bowl game, that would go a long way toward making NFL teams feel good about using a high draft pick on him.
The Razorbacks’ defensive ends make up one of the deepest position groups on the team, but Wise will get the lion’s share of attention — especially after how he played in the latter part of his junior season.
Considering that Arkansas has other talented players and pass rushers at defensive end — perhaps most notably, true freshman McTelvin Agim — should Wise be ranked lower on a list that puts an emphasis on importance over talent?
Perhaps, but Wise is so good and made such an impact once the light came on last season that if the Razorbacks were to lose him, there would probably be a pretty clear drop off, even with other good players.
Even if Wise finds himself double-teamed by opposing offenses, that would only open up opportunities for other players. Wise has a chance to be the type of player who impacts the game regardless of whether or not he’s recording stats.
Editor’s note: Arkansas beat writers Jason Kersey and Trent Shadid are counting down the most important Arkansas football players for the 2016 season. The countdown will continue over the next four days, with each remaining player getting his own post.