football Edit

What they said: Morris, Arkansas assistants comment on early signees

Head coach Chad Morris spoke to the media for about 34 minutes Wednesday afternoon after Arkansas signed 20 players during the first day of the early signing period.

The assistant coaches were not available for interviews, but did talk about each individual player during a 1.5-hour signing day special on SEC Network-plus and Facebook Live that morning.

Here is a player-by-player look at what Morris and the Razorbacks’ assistants had to say about each early signee…



“When I first saw KJ, we literally got him on the phone within 10 minutes. (Personnel assistant) Mark Modleski let me know about him. We watched him, got him on the phone and offered him that night. … We saw a lot of guys in this class that were one-read-and-run guys, we call them. You see KJ going through his progressions and he is a bigger guy than you think. When you see him in person, he’s a big kid. He has all of the intangible that you want. He’s a leader. He does throw the ball down the field. He does do a lot of RPO game, zone read. Those kind of things are exactly what we’re looking for in a quarterback and KJ was the perfect fit for that.” - offensive coordinator Joe Craddock

“We started watching him early, started building a relationship. I remember that I was actually heading down to Little Rock on the day that he and his mom were coming here on a visit, and I remember them FaceTiming me because I couldn’t be here. Sitting there and talking to them though FaceTime and just sharing my vision and the past quarterbacks that I’ve been associated with, and being able to help develop. We knew this was the guy, and all we needed was his word. He gave us his word in the summer, I guess it was the early part, and stayed true to who he is. That was special, especially from a quarterback. It was great to have him. … Big kid, big 6-3, 215. He runs really well. Throws the ball exceptionally well.” - head coach Chad Morris

Wide Receiver

“The interesting thing about T.Q. is when he came up here last February, he may have been 6-1. He’s grown tremendously over the last year. He’s a very raw football player, raw as far as route running and things like that, but he’s got excellent speed. Dynamic with the ball in his hands. You can see his yards after catch are incredible. I think he brings a lot of dynamic play-making ability to our group. Great in special teams as far as a returner. He’s grown from 6-1 to 6-4 in a year. I think this kid has a great frame and can put on some more weight. I think he has an unlimited and untapped potential that is going to be good for us. … He has incredible balance. That’s one thing, even from seeing him on tape, his balance is really good.” - wide receivers coach Justin Stepp

“He is a big kid. When he walks in here, that’s what SEC receivers are supposed to look like. The interesting thing about him is Trey actually came up here about late-February, mid-March last year and when he walked out of the building, I said, ‘You know what, we’ll never see that kid again.’ He had Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Clemson, he had school after school (offering him), but he and I actually developed a really good relationship and talked almost every single day. His body size and his length are exactly what we want at this position. … He reminds me a lot of Mike Williams that we had at Clemson and obviously Courtland (Sutton). He plays 6-5. He doesn’t small, he plays big, plays to his size.” - wide receivers coach Justin Stepp

“He’s been living like a college student the last six months down at IMG. He’s all about ball. He wants to watch film, he wants to get better. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands. He’s a 6-2.5 kid, so he’s not short by any stretch of the imagination. He’s an explosive kid and I think he’s going to bring a lot to our room, as well, as far as leadership. That’s what he has that you can’t coach, he has unbelievable leadership qualities about him.” - wide receivers coach Justin Stepp

Offensive line

“Myron is a great pickup for us, a great kid and is going to come in and compete right away. We’ve told him, ‘This ain’t a come in and let’s see what you do. Come ready.’ He’s got that type of mentality. He’s a technician. He really likes to learn about the game. He likes to watch other guys. He studies the game. He’s really one of the guys that are going to help us right away. … When you look at him, he has almost a six pack. You’re like, ‘Man, he’s 300 pounds? We gotta fatten you up a little bit.’ (Laughs) He’s going to be a special one. … Being a technician is huge because you can win the battle before it even begins by being a great technician and understanding beating a guy to an angle, beating a guy to a gap. That’s really important rather than just being a crazy guy in there (like a) bull in a china shop. You want those, but it’s controlled aggression.” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry

“Brady’s a kid that we knew about in the spring. The crazy thing is he was only 240 pounds. He was a little under recruited. Just blew up weight-wise and Coach Lunney did a great job of kind of going by there and goes, ‘Hey man, I think this kid’s going to be really good. We can wait a little bit, but he may end up picking up a bunch of (offers).’ I’m not afraid to be a first-offer guy or put my name out there and try to get a kid if I like him. Coach Lunney and I thought we needed to go ahead and offer this kid before he starts blowing up and I’m glad we did because there’s been a lot of calls that turned down since he committed to us. His dad played center at Oklahoma. If we were going to be late, it probably wasn’t going to work out too well for us.” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry

“You’ll find out more and more than I love offensive linemen that couldn’t care less about social media, that really don’t care about going to all the (camps). He wants to play football. That’s it. He doesn’t care about putting out all of his offers and putting out this and this. He doesn’t care. He’s going to play football. He’s going to work hard. He’s a kid when you watch him over and over, he’s just putting people on their back. … He’ll be a guy we bring in and he knows he’s going to have to add some bulk, add some weight. But man, he has such good feet and that mentality, when he adds 15 pounds of muscle, you’re going to have a special player right there.” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry

“He really can scratch the back of his calves standing up. He’s that long. And that’s what we need. I have some kids with some length, but this is crazy length. This is NFL length. This is that type where he puts that arm out and guys can’t get to him. That’s huge in this league. Chibueze is a great kid, a very quiet kid. He’s still raw, still has to grow, still has to get stronger, but with that frame that he has and the type of kid he is, the type of work ethic that he has, it’s only going to get better and better from here. I see him as one of those guys that’s going to come in early, he’s going to attack the weight room. He’s very smart, so he understands football, he understands what he needs to do and he a little bit of a trash talker, too. Coach Craddock and I saw him at his bowl game and he was talking trash. I was like, ‘Wow, Boise. I didn’t know you had that in you.’” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry

"I have some kids with some length, but this is crazy length. This is NFL length. This is that type where he puts that arm out and guys can’t get to him."
— Dustin Fry, on OL Chibueze Nwanna

“He’s one of those kids you look at and he’s a lean 290. He has a lot of frame and a lot of growth to get stronger on and to get bigger on. He’s one of those kids, just like Brady, that wants to finish. He’s always looking for someone to hit late and he’s just a hard worker. He’s going to come in and work his tail off to get bigger and stronger.” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry

“It’s funny looking at the pictures when he was here in February because we’ve known about Ricky for a long time. He was actually 320, just a little overweight, didn’t move as well, played tackle. I really liked him and he had just a fantastic senior year. He got down to 280, moved inside, played some center, played guard. He can play those interior spots really well.” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry

“We had him on campus a year ago and (he) totally just had a total transformation of his body. And man let me just tell you, this guy, everywhere I went, was mentioned. Every coach I talked to in the state of Oklahoma and in the Tulsa area mentioned, ‘Coach, I’m just telling you this is the guy.’ … We were very aware of Ricky, we just wanted to make sure our numbers lined up to present itself. Going over there and talking to all the coaches in that area and listening to them talk about the caliber of player Ricky is, we had to find a way. So that’s what I did.” - head coach Chad Morris

Defensive end

“Everybody on social media, they know he was our recruiting coordinator for the year. … He was on Twitter every day and started ‘The New Arkansas.’ You watch him play the game, he can do so many things. He can play for myself or even grow into playing for (defensive tackles coach) John Scott. … It’s hard to teach those young guys to play with their hands because they’ve been big enough. He plays with good pad leverage. He bends well. He gets his hands in there and that’s what it’s all about, taking on blocks and shedding blocks and then making plays. … My wife went with me to his game. She had never seen him and said, ‘Well, this is the one we’re looking for.’ When she can pick them out, you know we’re doing the right thing.” - defensive line coach Steve Caldwell

“He’s 280 pounds right now, so he can do some of the same things Collin can. … He’s been away from home already for a year. He’s going to kind of be that role model, be able to help (fellow early enrollees Zach Williams and Mataio Soli) get through this tough time. As you know, that first semester away from home is not always as easy as you think it’s going to be. … Maturity-wise, I think he’s going to be ahead of a lot of the guys.” - defensive line coach Steve Caldwell

“He’s the guy we’re looking to come off the edge, for sure. He’s so flexible. You watch him bend the edge. I have to give Junior a lot of credit. He’s done a great job coaching him. He trains him. He will be the most technique-sound guy out of the class when he gets here just because of the way he’s been coached. … This kid is very explosive. That first step is going to make him awesome coming off the edge.” - defensive line coach Steve Caldwell

“A fabulous football player from Douglasville, Georgia. A guy that we (would have) been recruiting regardless if he hadn't had the Razorback ties. This guy is absolutely dynamic. He was wanted by everybody in the country. We anticipate him to come in and be here in January and compete to play. We anticipate that. He is a very serious, straight business guy. That is what I love about him, love about his family.” - head coach Chad Morris

“This is the longest one of the group. When you look at Zach, what a great wingspan. I watched Zach play earlier in the year and then was able to watch him in the state playoffs and I think Zach got better and better as the year went on. The one thing this joker can do, he can run. I watched him run down the quarterback against a couple of teams that they played that had some guys that were very athletic.” - defensive line coach Steve Caldwell

“He's long. We had to get some length at the defensive edge to rush the passer. Zach brings that. A highly recruited guy and grew up wanting to be a Hog. That means so much to us.” - head coach Chad Morris

Defensive tackle

“I had an opportunity to go watch Taurean play this year and I tell you what man, he is cat quick. He’s a 300-pound guy. He runs very well. He has the potential to get even bigger. You watch him against opponents, he wants to move and run and change direction. In this league, your defensive line - it doesn’t matter tackles or ends - those big guys have to be able to change direction and they have to be disruptive. He fits exactly what we do with our defense, where we’re asking those 3-techniques and those inside guys to be explosive and get off the ball. This guys fits that bill. He’s exactly what we’re looking for and he has the arm length to separate and get off blocks. … When you watch this kid play, you watch his tape and you watch him live, the kid does play with a lot of swag.” - defensive line coach John Scott Jr.

“Taurean Carter is a big D-lineman that fits the needs. He can play both inside and out. We anticipate him playing more inside with us from Mansfield Legacy.” - head coach Chad Morris

“This kid is really special, too. He has a rare combination of explosiveness and his short space change of direction is outstanding. That kid can put his foot in the ground and change direction within a five-yard box as good as I’ve seen. You’re going to be able to do some different things with him that you may not be able to do with all of your guys in your group, as far as slanting him and I can’t wait to see this kid run some of our stunts and twists and movements because he’s so fast. He has good power. He comes off that ball and he gets his edge on you and he gets off. Everybody wants to do the Dwight Freeney spin move. That’s not one of the things that we’re going to encourage a whole lot here, but he is athletic enough to do that. On the line of scrimmage, very rarely do you see an inside guy spin, but this kid can do it because of his center of gravity and the quick twitch that he has and great feet. … Coming from the NFL, you see guys like this that play in that tilt a little bit. I just see with his feet and his quickness, you can do a lot of things with him.” - defensive line coach John Scott Jr.

“Might be one of the most athletic guys that I've been around. To watch this guy move at the size he is phenomenal.” - head coach Chad Morris

"Might be one of the most athletic guys that I've been around. To watch this guy move at the size he is phenomenal."
— Chad Morris, on DT Enoch Jackson

“This kid, when he’s going, to be that big, has really good twitch. He can move, to be that big. This will be a guy that will be able to play the run well, but he also has a sneaky, deceptive pass rush about him, too. This kid has really quick feet and I just think the sky’s the limit to what he’ll be able to do because he’s a little raw right now, but I tell you, with his athleticism, his big body, I think he’ll be great with what we’re doing. … He plays both ways sometimes, but you can just imagine playing one way all the time, I’m telling you, he’s raw…but he has the twitch and athleticism you want inside.” - defensive line coach John Scott Jr.


“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s focused. He has a plan for everything and you like that. … It was easy to build a relationship because he’s easy to talk to. He’s very, very intelligent. … When you start looking at his length, most great pass rushers are going to have that kind of length. As much as we like to get in that bear package and bring him off the edge, he’s going to give us a dimension coming off the edge in that package we didn’t really have last year.” - defensive coordinator John Chavis

“Big, tall rangy linebacker that has an opportunity to be effective on the pass rush. We're excited about him.” - head coach Chad Morris

Defensive back

“We've been talking to Greg for quite some time. The relationships we've had and trying to build that relationship to be strong. Just the needs, I think he saw the needs that would impact him to come here. The opportunity to play. Just a fabulous football player. Has won everywhere he has been.” - head coach Chad Morris

“When I was talking to his football coach the other day, they don’t have a track to even run on and he still won the 100-yard championship in his division. A talented young man that’s tough, hard-nosed. He’s smart. He played offense, he played defense. He never came off the field. He’s got great speed. … He loves the state and has always wanted to play for the Razorbacks. As I’ve said several times, I think he’ll be the surprise. You don’t talk a whole lot about him, but when we’re lining up a couple years from now, everybody will be saying, ‘Wow, tell me about Malik’s recruitment.’” - defensive backs coach Ron Cooper

Bonus Quotes

Here are a few other quotes from Arkansas' assistant coaches that we found interesting, but weren't about any one particular player...

“We don’t want a guy that has to just stand back there and sit in the pocket. We want a guy that, hey, you’re not going to call a great play every single play, so to be able to make a play with your feet, to extend a play and make something happen athletically is really what we’re looking for, so moving forward, that’s the kind of style of quarterback we’re looking for. … We’re not going to be able to block them every time, we’re not going to be able to get open every single time, so to have that extra element with that quarterback is huge.” - offensive coordinator Joe Craddock, on what Arkansas is looking for in a quarterback

“I was talking to some guys last week even, with what the RPOs and the way the passing game is going now, a lot of your sacks - which you saw last year with Armon (Watts) - come from the inside guys. Now we take a kid like Collin Clay or some of the guys we got on campus and you’re able to move them inside on third down and now you have those one-on-one matchups with those guards in the quarterback’s face and it makes it happen quick.” - defensive line coach Steve Caldwell, on versatility of guys being able to play outside and inside on the line

“It’s a good mix of guys that can come in and compete right away and guys that we know are going to need some time in the weight room. … All have really good feet, all can run. … To get six and be able to flip that group around, it’s really going to help us a lot.” - offensive line coach Dustin Fry, on the offensive line signees as a group

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