FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has a new defensive coordinator and even a co-defensive coordinator this season with only Deke Adams returning on that side of the ball.
Odd as it sounds, Adams is the first defensive line coach to return to Sam Pittman’s staff for a second season. In an offseason of change he made it to a second year.
Travis Williams was hired from UCF to be defensive coordinator. Marcus Woodson came over from Florida State and will be co-defensive coordinator while Deron Wilson left Florida for the Hogs. Woodson and Wilson will be in charge of the secondary. Williams has the linebackers.
Here’s a closer look at each position on defense.
The Hogs are deeper at the end spots than on the interior at this time. They are still working the portal for some interior help. Among the ends are Zach Williams, Landon Jackson, Nico Davillier, Jashaud Stewart and newcomers Trajan Jeffcoat and John Morgan III. All are capable of helping. Williams had the best season statistically of all the returning ends. He finished with 34 tackles 11 solo, 6.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries. Davillier, Jackson and Morgan are working at the new end spot created by Travis Williams. Jeffcoat made all-SEC at Missouri previously. Morgan came from Pitt and is considered an outstanding pass rusher.
On the interior, redshirt freshman Cameron Ball was impressive last season despite not starting until the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. He had 31 tackles, nine solo, 2.5 for loss, solo sack, a quarterback hurry and forced one fumble. Eric Gregory can play inside or at end. Marcus Miller and JJ Hollingsworth are other interior players. Hollingsworth can play end or tackle as well. Walk-on Jon Hill had a good spring game last year and is still someone to watch. In late May or early June, the Hogs will welcome Quincy Rhodes Jr., Kaleb James and Ian Geffrard to campus. Rhodes is an end while James is capable of playing any spot while Geffrard is definitely an interior lineman. The Hogs will definitely try to add one or two interior defensive linemen out of the portal.
Chris “Pooh” Paul is the headliner at linebacker. He has a chance to be among the best in the SEC. That is lofty expectations for someone with two career starts, but the truth is he’s that good. Paul backed up Bumper Pool and Drew Sanders last year. When Pool had season-ending surgery, Paul started the Missouri and Kansas games. He finished the season with 62 tackles, 38 solo, eight for loss, four sacks, three quarterback hurries, forced a fumble and recovered one. He’s one of the leaders on defense despite just being a redshirt sophomore. Jordan Crook started the bowl game in place of Sanders who opted out to concentrate on the 2023 NFL Draft. Arkansas has added a very talented linebacker transfer in Antonio Grier from USF. Paul, Crook and Grier are all very, very capable of providing Williams with a talented linebacker group. Others are Mani Powell and Kaden Henley. The Hogs inked three outstanding linebackers from high school with two on the campus now. Brad Spence and Carson Dean are going through spring drills. Spence apparently suffered some form of injury since he was unable to scrimmage last Thursday. Alex Sanford will report in late May or early June. Arkansas could still add another linebacker from the portal since the numbers are down some. Among the walk-on linebackers are Mason Schueck and Brooks Both.
The Hogs return Dwight McGlothern and Quincey McAdoo at the cornerback spots. McAdoo has been nursing an injury this spring, but is expected back at some point following spring break. Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson is a transfer from Baylor who has impressed in the first five practices at the cornerback spot opposite McGlothern. Hudson Clark returns at one of the safety spots as does Jayden Johnson. Malik Chavis has moved to safety. Alfahiym Walcott is expected to be the nickel back, but he’s out this spring with an injury. He too is a Baylor transfer. Jaheim Singletary is a transfer from Georgia who was a five-star recruit in the Class of 2022. He entered the transfer portal, has signed with the Hogs and will be at Arkansas in late May or early June. Very talented addition who could play cornerback or safety. Expect the Hogs to still add a safety-nickel back or two from the portal. Jaylen Lewis redshirted last year, but is making his presence known this spring at safety or nickel. LaDarrius Bishop is another injured Razorback who will be back at some point this spring. Bishop will begin at cornerback, but could be moved to safety and nickel. He has experience playing the nickel. Several freshmen are in hunt for secondary playing time. They are Jaylon Braxton, RJ Johnson, Dylan Hasz, Dallas Young and TJ Metcalf. Christian Ford will report in late May or early June and expected to help at safety or the nickel back.