FAYETTEVILLE — Three of Arkansas’ five captains held a Zoom conference with the media following Tuesday’s practice.
Arkansas has nine starters back on offense with one of the new being redshirt sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson. The former four-star from Sardis (Miss.) North Panola has two starts under his belt, but the Rice game will be his first home start. Left tackle Myron Cunninghan is one of the linemen who has complete confidence in Jefferson.
“I think he’s been doing great this week,” Cunningham said. “I think he’s approached every day as if it were a game day. You can tell from out there at practice.”
What is Jefferson like in the locker room around the other players and coaches?
“In the locker room, he’s funny and always joking and playing around,” Cunningham said. “When we get on that field, it’s all business. I think that’s kind of why people are so behind him on this team, because when it’s business time, he handles his business like a professional, and when it’s not, we can cut it up with him and joke around and have a good time.”
Linebacker Grant Morgan also is impressed with how Jefferson is handling his duties leading up to Saturday.
“Yeah, the leadership role with KJ is something that no one else questions,” Morgan said. “He’s got a type of maturity that’s really set himself apart here recently. So, the way that he’s done it is, he’s taken that first starting role, and he’s been able to just go with it and lead and be more vocal. And I always said at the beginning I was trying to get on him, try to call it up more often but, like, if y’all don’t know we’re all up all joking around and stuff. Joe and him are always talking to me, like, ‘Man, we want to talk at the end of the practice. We don’t even talk. So it’s like, I finally give them shots, and look at them. They’re both voted team captains. So, they both deserve it, and KJ deserves it, and it just shows you what our team believes in him. And for him to be able to be voted team captain, just like every other guy that was voted team captain. So, KJ has really stepped up, and it’s really fun to watch. And I’m excited to see how he does this year.”
Treylon Burks is Arkansas’ leading receiver returning and is rated among the best in the nation. But Burks is injured and his status for Saturday is still up in the air. If Burks can’t go, Cunningham feels Jefferson will still have plenty of good targets to throw to.
“I think KJ has a lot of options,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got a lot of depth at receiver. We’ve got Trey Knox, Warren Thompson, JD White. A young guy, Ketron Jackson. I think he’s got a lot of options when it comes to wide receivers. So I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
In eight games, including two starts, Jefferson has completed 34 of 72 passes for 492 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He has rushed 58 times for 125 yards and four touchdowns.