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HawgBeat's Preseason Burning Questions: Second-team wide receivers

Tyson Morris had 155 receiving yards for the Razorbacks in 2019.
Tyson Morris had 155 receiving yards for the Razorbacks in 2019. (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

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The status of the 2020 college football season remains perilous as we inch closer to - at least what is scheduled to be - Week 1.

As of this moment, Arkansas is still set to open the Sam Pittman era against Nevada on Sept. 5 in Fayetteville. That could change if the SEC follows the Big Ten’s lead and shifts to a conference-only schedule.

However, for the time being, HawgBeat is treating it as everything is moving forward as planned. That includes the start of NFL-style OTAs - which are essentially walk-through practices - for the Razorbacks on July 24.

Leading up to that date, we are revealing our 10 “burning questions” surrounding Arkansas as it prepares for what everyone hopes to be a fall football season. Next up…


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Which second-team wide receiver will step up?

Several of Arkansas’ positions are up for grabs this preseason, but the Razorbacks seem to be pretty set on its first group of wide receivers. Treylon Burks, Trey Knox and Mike Woods are all back after starting last season.

The trio combined for 90 receptions, 1,283 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, compared to the 23 catches for 241 yards and two touchdowns by all other receivers. There is a clear separation between that first group and the rest of the position.

With a new offensive coordinator in Kendal Briles and a graduate transfer quarterback - Feleipe Franks - who, at least on paper, seems to be an upgrade over last year, there is hope that Arkansas’ passing game will be much improved in 2020.

Burks, Knox and Woods could see an increase in production, but it’s likely that the production from the other wide receivers will also experience a spike.

During his one season at Florida State, Briles had a pretty clear No. 1 and No. 2 wide receiver, but five others had between 208 and 289 receiving yards. At Houston, there was a definite top three, but another two receivers managed to have 200-plus yards. It was similar at Florida Atlantic, with two receivers finishing with 600-plus yards and two more finishing with 300-plus.

That seems to indicate that Briles likes to spread the ball around amongst wide receivers (this doesn’t even factor in tight ends and running backs). It is quite possible Arkansas will have a fourth and maybe even fifth wide receiver with better numbers than the 13 receptions, 155 yards and one touchdown Tyson Morris had last year.

Exactly who those receivers will be is the burning question. We don’t have any spring practices to go off of, but based on what Pittman told the media, Morris, De’Vion Warren and Koilan Jackson are currently in the second group of wide receivers and seem to be the best candidates.

Morris would make a lot of sense considering he had the best numbers last season. A former walk-on, he looks the part even though he’s just 6-foot-1, 198 pounds. He’s consistently made plays in limited portions of practice open to the media and even made a couple of key catches in 2019.

Warren is much smaller (5-10, 182) and hasn’t really made a huge impact in the passing game, but his speed has been utilized on jet sweeps and in the kickoff return game. Like Morris, he’s a senior in his final season of eligibility, so it’s now or never for him.

Jackson is a fourth-year junior with a couple of years left who has also shown glimpses since getting healthy from injuries early in his career. He has good bloodlines, as his father was legendary tight end Keith Jackson, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if he emerges as the top second-team wide receiver.

Of course, there’s a chance that guy doesn’t even come from that group.

Kendall Catalon is very small (5-9, 186), but has a track record of success at Southern. Franks even mentioned his name earlier this summer. The only true freshman wide receiver is Darin Turner and the coaches sound high on him, so he could be an option - or perhaps redshirt freshmen Shamar Nash or John David White. Nash was a four-star wide receiver who didn’t play at all last season, while White got some action and caught a couple of passes at LSU.

HawgBeat's Preseason Burning Questions

Has Feleipe Franks developed chemistry with the wide receivers/tight ends?

What will Arkansas use as its base defense?

Which second-team wide receiver will step up?