FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Continuing SEC County’s countdown of the most important Arkansas football players for the 2016 season, here is a look at the Hogs we’ve ranked at Nos. 15 to 11.
We began our rankings Tuesday with the Razorbacks ranked No. 16 through No. 25 in importance. You can view that article here.
Thursday, we will release the No. 6 through 10 most important Arkansas players, then release an individual post each day through Tuesday on the top-five most important Razorbacks.
A reminder: These rankings — compiled by Arkansas beat writers Jason Kersey and Trent Shadid — aren’t of the best players on the team, but of the most important in determining the Hogs’ 2016 success.
15. Dominique Reed, Sr., WR
Jersey No.: 3
2015 stats: 28 receptions, 535 yards, six touchdowns; four rushes, 24 yards, one touchdown; 10 kick returns for 222 yards (22.2 average)
Career appearances/starts: 12/6
Reed, a transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, burst onto the scene after the first month of last season and became the team’s third-leading receiver. His best game came in the Razorbacks’ Nov. 7 overtime win at Ole Miss, where Reed caught seven passes for 105 yards and two scores.
He is considered one of the league’s fastest players and if he gets off to a better start in 2016, could be a big help to first-year starter Austin Allen. Reed also was one of the team’s main kick returners, and with his speed, should be capable of changing games in that area, as well.
14. DJ Dean, Sr., CB
Jersey No.: 2
2015 stats: 35 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, two interceptions, three pass breakups
Career appearances/starts: 37/16
Dean missed lots of the spring with an injury, but is expected to be the starter at the corner spot opposite Jared Collins. Henre’ Toliver is the other main guy who will see action at corner. Considering the Razorbacks’ dreadful pass defense a year ago, Dean will be extremely important in 2016 — especially with that game at TCU looming in early September.
13. Drew Morgan, Sr., WR
Jersey No.: 80
2015 stats: 63 receptions, 843 yards, 10 touchdowns
Career appearances/starts: 36/10
Morgan’s 10 touchdown receptions in 2015 led the SEC, and he was the team’s leading receiver in receptions and yardage. Along with Keon Hatcher, Dominique Reed and Jared Cornelius, Morgan helps make up an experienced, talented wide receiver corps that should make life a whole lot easier for Austin Allen in his first full-time year behind center.
12. Santos Ramirez, So., S
Jersey No.: 9
2015 stats: 35 tackles, one interception, three pass breakups
Career appearances/starts: 12/3
Ramirez and Josh Liddell split time as a starting safety last season, but now that Rohan Gaines is gone, Ramirez and Liddell appear to be the two starters at safety for 2016.
Again, the Razorbacks’ poor pass defense numbers a year ago make these positions vital to the team’s overall success in 2016. With a year of experience, Ramirez should be better, but how much better? The answer to that question could be the difference in more than a couple games this season.
11. Dre Greenlaw, So., LB
Jersey No.: 23
2015 stats: 95 tackles, 3.5 TFL, one sack, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry, two forced fumbles
Career appearances/starts: 13/11
A freshman All-American according to several selectors, Greenlaw returns as one of the most talented players on the defense. His 95 tackles were good for second on the team and his 16-tackle outing against Auburn was the best single-game tackling performance of the season for Arkansas.
Still, Greenlaw has areas where he could improve; he was out of position on a few big plays that cost the Razorbacks in 2015.
He ranks high on this list because behind Greenlaw and Brooks Ellis — last year’s leading tackler — the Razorbacks desperately need other linebackers to step up and be productive, if for nothing else than to give Greenlaw and Ellis a break. If something was to happen to either of those guys, the Arkansas defense could have major problems.