FAYETTEVILLE — Junior wide receiver Treylon Burks has opted out of the Outback Bowl and now the remainder of the team is preparing to face Penn State without him.
Friday night Arkansas’ players talked to the media for the first time since the Missouri game. Burks caught 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Super senior Tyson Morris was next with 21 receptions with 305 yards and two touchdowns. Morris talked about Friday’s first bowl practice without Burks.
“Obviously we know he made the best decision for himself and his family,” Morris said. “I feel like he’ll do great things in the NFL and stuff like that. But I feel like it’s the next man up mentality. I have to step up, the young guys have to step up. Everybody has to step up and play together as a quota.”
Since Morris is the second-leading wide receiver on the team he knows more could be asked of him in the Outback Bowl.
“Oh yeah, I obviously know I’m going to be looked at as one of the guys who needs to step up and I’m going to do that,” Morris said. “That’s my plan. I’m not going to, you know what I’m saying, back down because my good friend’s gone. I feel like this game is another opportunity for me to prove myself and show guys what I’m capable of.”
Morris talked about how the receivers practiced Friday.
“Nothing different,” Morris said. “Everybody is still playing football. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve been doing since way back in the day. So it’s not the end of life. It’s just congratulate our brother for making it and following his dreams and continue to work,”
A couple of true freshmen also could make an impact in the bowl game. Ketron Jackson caught five passes for 97 yards and a touchdown while Bryce Stephens will play in his fourth game of the season thus preserving his redshirt year.
“Yeah, most definitely,” Morris said. “I feel like Ketron he’s definitely been soaking it all in this season. He’s been moved around, just behind left receiver, right receiver, backing us up and he’s been doing a great job with that. He knows the offense well. He’s a young guy but he looks the part so I feel like he’s ready to step in there and take over. Bryce, he’s real fast. He’s getting along with the offense. He can play without burning his redshirt in this game so I feel like they’re going to give him a lot of reps.”
Morris talked about the leadership in the room now with Burks gone and what kind of leader he was.
“Treylon was a great guy, he still is a great guy, you know what I’m saying?” Morris said. “He’s always been there for everybody in the room. He’s always had our backs, and we’ve always had his back. It’s a brotherhood over here. As far as leadership, Treylon leads with his game and his practice habits, stuff like that. I feel like, that’s just how we rock in the room entirely. We all practice hard, and we work hard. As far as the leadership, it’s still there. Guys know the expectation, I don’t think the expectations have changed one bit.”
A player who saw plenty of Burks each practice is cornerback Montaric Brown. He talked about what he thinks about the group of wide receivers without Burks.
“I just think of the next man. next man up mentality,” Brown said. “You know, it’s a chance for a young guy to step up and make plays.”
What made Burks so special in your opinion?
“Just his physicality, his speed,” Brown said. “He just reminded me of Julio Jones for some reason. I just call him in practice. Like his size, for his size. He got it all. He’s a complete wide receiver.”
Arkansas will conduct its second bowl practice today.