By Otis Kirk
EUDORA, Kan. — Eudora (Kan.) Class of 2023 four-star tight end Jaden Hamm is preparing for his senior season and then heading to Arkansas at midterm to begin his career as a Razorback.
Hamm, 6-6, 232, committed to Arkansas on Aug. 14, 2021, and has remained solid since that time. Hamm had plenty of offers to go elsewhere, but opted to join the Razorbacks. On Thursday, he talked about why he picked the Hogs.
“A lot of things led me here,” Hamm said. “The coaching staff obviously. I connected a lot with Coach (Dowell) Loggains and Coach (Sam) Pittman. We have great relationships built. Then getting to know players was another big one. Just how our recruiting class of 2023 we’re all really close and communicate a lot. We’ve all became really close.”
When you were down to Fayetteville on April 16 to watch the scrimmage I saw you hanging out a lot with Bixby (Okla.) four-star tight end Luke Hasz, who is also committed to the Razorbacks.
“Me and him have gotten really close since he committed,” Hamm said. “Me and him talk a lot.”
With Pittman going to be Hamm’s head coach in college, he talked more about what he specifically likes the third-year Arkansas head coach.
“He’s very up front, very blunt, honest and he’s got guts as a coach,” Hamm said. “Like in the Ole Miss game when he went for the two-point conversion to win it all. That’s what I like to see in a coach and he has trust in his players.”
Loggains is the tight end coach with the Hogs and Hamm talked about his connection with his future position’s coach.
“He’s very honest too and very up front,” Hamm said. “He likes what he sees in a lot of his players and he’s good at his job. He knows what he is doing and his experience in the NFL was a big pull for me. That was a very big pull for me in the commitment.”
Hamm plays both tight end and defensive end for the Cardinals. Hamm talked about what he feels are his strengths on the field.
“I think my biggest one is my physicality,” Hamm said. “Being able to be versatile. Being able to line up at wide out and come down and be able to block a 250-pound lineman is a big deal also.”
Hamm also talked about an area where he feels like he needs to improve the most.
“Tightening up my foot work on my route running is a big one,” Hamm said. “Getting down, breaking down and using my speed to my advantage.”
Hamm, like most recruits, fans and observers, is impressed with how Pittman has turned the program around in a very short time in Fayetteville. The Hogs won one SEC game in three seasons prior to Pittman, finished 2-10 two years in a row. In Pittman’s first season the Hogs went 3-7 against an all-SEC schedule and could have easily won three or four more games. Then last season Arkansas went 9-4 and defeated Penn State 24-10 in the Outback Bowl.
“It’s amazing,” Hamm said. “Just being able to see that and go to the games, see the atmosphere and what Pittman has turned this program into is eye-opening basically with what he has done.”
Hamm is one of three four-star tight ends pledged to the Hogs. In addition to Hasz, the Hogs also have Ashdown’s Shamar Easter. Hamm said the fact Arkansas is landing three tight ends in this class is a positive not a negative for him.
“No, we are all happy and we all know where we stand with each other,” Hamm said. “We all know fight for the positions and fight for the best. Who gets in gets in.”
As far as a preference for blocking or catching passes at Eudora, Hamm is ready for anything that helps the Cardinals win.
“I just like everything,” Hamm said. “I want to do what is best for our offense here and do what is best for the offense when I get down there. I do whatever the coach tells me to do.”
At Arkansas, Hamm and others will catch passes from Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb four-star quarterback Malachi Singleton who is also committed to the Hogs in the Class of 2023.
“He’s a great guy to be around,” Hamm said. “I know he has skills to play next-level QB. I love Malachi. For what Arkansas needs (at quarterback) I think Malachi is a great fit. Malachi definitely fits the RPO we have at Arkansas.”
The drive from Eudora to Fayetteville is a sweet one and that is a good thing since Hamm plans to be a regular making that trip.
“I will be at all seven home games,” Hamm said.
Hamm will watch the Hogs play Cincinnati next Saturday. Hamm and Eudora open the season on Friday night at Baldwin (Kan.) in a non-conference game. Hamm talked about his expectations for this year’s Razorback team.
“I don’t even know what the record numbers is gonna be record wise, but I just know we’re going to build off last year,” Hamm said. “We lost some close games like the Ole Miss game. Some tweaks we’re going to fix.”
Eudora has a new head coach in Drew Steffen who was the defensive coordinator last year. Hamm talked about what the expectations are for his senior season.
“I’m expecting us to go really deep in the playoffs this year,” Hamm said. “That’s always been our motto. It doesn’t matter how many games you win in the regular season, it’s how deep you go in the playoffs. That’s always been our thing. But I’m expecting to go pretty big in the main season and then postseason I expect us to go pretty deep there too. With summer expectations we hit the ground running. We are at now where we were at Week 8 last season.”
Hamm doubles up at defensive end in addition to tight end on offense.
“I play almost every down,” Hamm said. “I’m fine with either one in college. Whichever helps the team the most. They (Arkansas staff) make jokes all the time about throwing me on defense.”
Being a midterm graduate from high school will allow Hamm to get to Arkansas in January and he feels that is huge for his success with the Hogs.
“I think it’s going to be so much of a help,” Hamm said. “Just being down there and used to everything. Not having that much pressure of the season being on the line when you get there.”
Steffen is looking forward to coaching Hamm and the Cardinals this season. He is obviously impressed with what he has in Hamm.
“Jaden does everything we ask,” Steffen said. “He does a phenomenal job on defense of being physical and leading that defensive front. Then on offense he’s kind of the reason we do certain things. Probably like everyone he wants to touch the ball more in the passing game, but he doesn’t have any issue with getting his hand down on the ground and moving people. He has played with the group of kids he has been with for a lot of years. He cares a lot about them. He’s going to be one of the big reasons we’re going to be successful as we move into the playoffs and get this thing going.”