FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sophomore wide receiver Tyson Morris came to Arkansas as an unknown, but he has a chance to be well known in the future.
Morris, 6-1, 200, is from Fayetteville High School and is the son of former Arkansas standout Isaiah Morris. In 2018, he played in 11 games catching four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown. He was running with the first unit during Thursday’s practice and Justin Stepp, who coaches the wide receivers, is impressed with what he has seen.
“He has done a good job,” Stepp said. “As you said he came here as a walk on. He has had a great attitude this whole fall camp and really the last three days has done a really good job. Just the ability to get out there and make plays. He’s played hard, he’s practiced hard and we’re going to play the guys that get there and make plays and play the right way.
“They’ve got to play as hard as they can one play at a time. We’re going to mix it up and put different guys in there and see who can go. Just like I said from the beginning before we ever started this thing when you’ve got competition that makes everyone in the room better. He has definitely brought all the rest of the room up with his level of competition.”
Morris was mentioned again by Stepp when asked if anyone has stepped up to become a consistent playmaker at wide receiver?
“I mean it’s usually been a different guy every day,” Stepp said. “Tyson Morris has showed up the last two days and did a good job making some plays. It has been a different guy every day really hasn’t been the same guy every single day.
“We’ve got a lot of competition and when you’ve got competition it makes everybody better. Not our best day today, but we’ve got to follow it up with a good day.”
Stepp talked about how the receivers are looking after 12 practices and also about the four freshmen.
“The freshmen are coming along,” Stepp said. “The older guys are doing a good job helping them out kinda teaching them the ropes. Obviously our whole group has got to get better.
“We didn’t have a good day today, but it will be interesting to see these guys because usually when we don’t have a great day we follow it up with a pretty good one. It will be interesting to see how they come to meetings this afternoon and how they approach that. Pretty proud of the group. When we’re rolling and we know what we’re doing and executing we have a chance to be pretty good.”
Junior Jordan Jones returns to the team after catching 17 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown in 2018. How has he looked since he returned from attending a family member’s funeral?
“He has been good,” Steppe said. “He has a little hip flexor thing that bothers him a little bit, but one thing Jordan has got is he is fast. That’s what we tell him when you play fast there’s no one in the country that can cover you. He has done a good job now it’s just about being consistent and then putting good days on top of good days.”
Isn’t it pretty impressive with the speed you guys recruited in this last class that Jones appears to still be the fastest player in the wide receiver room
“That is what I tell him, ‘God has blessed him with a lot of speed,'” Stepp said. “When we get to him to combine the speed with technique he’s gonna be really good. But he has done a good job. It goes back to the whole thing when you’ve got competition and there’s a ton of it in that room. You can’t have a bad day in our offense so it makes everyone bring it every day.”
True freshman Treylon Burks has been practicing recently without a knee brace. Is he gaining confidence in that knee?
“He got cleared by two doctors to practice without it,” Stepp said. “It was probably more of a hindrance to him than anything, so he feels comfortable without it. He’s done a good job. He’s a pleaser and he wants to do everything perfect. We’re really pleased with him.”
T.Q. Jackson, another true freshman, drew praise from Chad Morris this week. Stepp also likes what he has seen.
“He can roll,” Stepp said. ” T.Q. can roll. Obviously being a freshman, man, there’s so much to playing as a receiver in this offense. You can’t just line up and go. It’s one of the more complicated positions in our offense. The more he gets comfortable, the faster he’ll be able to play. But when he knows what he’s doing there’s not anybody on the field that can run with him. We’ve got a lot of speed in our room and a lot of competition.”
The other two true freshmen wide receivers Trey Knox and Shamar Nash were present in the spring. Has that been a big advantage for them?
“Obviously they had spring ball and they had winter conditioning,” Stepp said. “Obviously they’re a little more comfortable in the offense because they’ve been in it.
“We didn’t install much in the spring, so at the beginning I would say they were a lot further ahead, but now that we’ve installed a lot more, everybody is on the same playing field now. Everybody has had close to two weeks in this offense now. With all the stuff these guys do during the summer when we’re not here, the older guys did a good job of coaching them up and getting them prepared.”
Koilan Jackson is a sophomore who had surgery this week on his knee that was injured previously. Stepp talked about how Jackson is handling the latest setback.
“He’s great,” Stepp said. “I don’t think he knew where he was this morning when he was in there getting treatment, but he’s in good spirits. Koilan Jackson is a great kid and was having a really good fall camp, and we’re excited to get him back. It’s not the end of the road. It’s just a little minor setback for a great comeback by him. I’m really proud of his attitude right now.”
Mike Woods is a sophomore who started seven games last year and played in 10. Has he shown the consistency you’re looking for this fall?
“Mike Woods and Deon (Stewart), those two are my Steady Eddie’s, man,” Stepp said. “They bring it every day and do a really good job trying to set the tone for the rest of the group. He’s had his days, too, where he hasn’t practiced very well, but he’s a warrior. He brings it every day and I appreciate his leadership.”
Arkansas will return to the practice field on Friday with a closed drill. The scrimmage Saturday will also be closed.