FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — One indication football season is near happens each summer with the SEC Media Days.
On Wednesday, Chad Morris and three of his players were representing the Razorbacks in Hoover, Ala. Morris was joined by defensive lineman McTelvin Agim, running back Devwah Whaley and linebacker De’Jon Harris, all seniors.
As one would expect coming off a 2-10 season, Morris was asked about the expectations for this fall as far as wins and possibly making a bowl game.
“I think when you look at expectations for year two and wins and losses, I’m not going to put a number on it,” Morris said. “I know inside our program and talking to our seniors and our leaders, and they want to leave their legacy.
“And getting this program into the post season is definitely a goal of ours, and it’s something we’ve talked about. And we started talking about it 235 days ago, but it was going to take a lot. How far do you really want to go with this? And so I definitely believe that I’m asking for our football program and our staff to be consistent and to be the best they can be each and every day.”
With Ty Storey and Cole Kelley now transferred to other schools and Connor Noland concentrating on baseball Morris doesn’t have a quarterback on his campus who has started a game for the Hogs. That led him to add two graduate transfers in Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel. Hicks came from SMU where he played for Morris for three years and Starkel is from Texas A&M.
“Knowing Ben from this high school time and recruiting him out of high school, he played in a great program in the State of Texas and watching him progress the three years he was with us at SMU,” Morris said. “He stood in front of a football team as a 2-10 quarterback. So he knows what it looks like. He also knows how to dig out and the consistency and the message that’s got to come from that quarterback position.
“So I think the experience alone having been in that situation before helps Ben. He knows the offense. He’s been in it and understands what’s expected of him. So I think bringing him in January really elevated that entire room. He helped John Stephen Jones’ development and get the reps that he needs and his growth. But we also knew that there was the chance Connor had a really good year in baseball, that we had to be active and aggressive in the transfer market. I had recruited Nick out of high school and know what kind of arm he has and his experience in the fact that he’s graduated with two years left.”
Arkansas could be one of five SEC schools with a graduate transfer starting at quarterback. Morris was asked if that is a trend that could continue in the future in the SEC and college football?
“Well, I think it’s — I do not think the trend is going to go away,” Morris said. “I think that that’s something that’s here to stay and especially at the quarterback position. And you couldn’t blame — guys want to play. Quarterbacks, you know, when you recruit a quarterback, it’s different than recruiting someone else. These guys want to play, and they want to be the man. They want to impact the game.
“And when they see that, look, it may not happen at the place that they’re at, they have that option, and that’s great for our student-athletes. And so I don’t think that’s going to go away. I know it’s not going to go away at that position, but I also believe that as you recruit and as you sign classes, that there will always be that tendency to make sure you’ve got spots available for guys that may come into your program through the transfer market.”
Regardless of the quarterback, Morris expects them to have a good target to throw it to in Cheyenne O’Grady, the senior tight end. He also has high expectations for true freshman tight end Hudson Henry.
” Let’s start with CJ first, a guy that has talent just oozing all over him, a guy that was — went through some challenging times last year with a new staff, with the expectations, with the standards that we were setting, and to be that teammate that we want,” Morris said. “And when you saw him begin to buy in, and you saw what he can be. And there’s no doubt that he can be one of the best in the country at tight end. And he’s a top play maker we got coming back for us. He’s extremely talented. It’s just how good does he want to be?
“So that’s been our challenge to him in this offseason and motivating him and pushing him and driving him. And not just us, but his teammates. Again, we’ve gone to much a player-led football team. I’ve seen our players really, really push him and motivate him in different areas, in different ways.
“Hudson Henry, a phenomenally talented young man that is going to play and he’s going to push and he’s going to be — have a great career and a great future. So, we’ll see how his transformation into fall camp goes. But talking to our defensive secondary and going through their summer workouts and watching and listening to who’s impacting on the offensive side of the ball, Hudson’s name always comes up.”