FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ defense is looking to be an improved unit in 2019 and if that is the case the linebackers must be solid.
John Chavis coordinates the defense and coaches the linebackers. A good start at that unit being a strength is the return of senior De’Jon Harris. The talented Harris led the SEC in tackles in 2018 with 118 during the regular season.
Harris, who mulled over a decision to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, opted to return for his senior season. In 2018, he also had nine tackles for loss, two sacks, five pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, one recovered fumble and a forced one. He started all 12 games.
Harris is expected to be joined by sophomore Bumper Pool at the linebacker spot vacated by Dre Greenlaw who is now in the NFL. Greenlaw battled injuries in 2018 and played in nine games with eight starts.
Pool stepped in as a true freshman and played in 10 games with four starts. He finished the season with 29 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, one quarterback hurry, a fumble recovery he returned 60 yards and blocked a kick. The former four-star from Lucas (Texas) Lovejoy should have a huge role this season.
When Arkansas is in its base defense, the other linebacker could be juniors Hayden Henry or D’Vone McClure as well as some others. Henry played in all 12 games in 2018 with one start. He had 24 tackles while McClure, who played a lot of nickel, played in 12 games with six starts. McClure added 26 tackles.
The other scholarship linebackers on Arkansas’ roster are juniors Deon Edwards, Giovanni LaFrance and Grant Morgan, redshirt freshman Andrew Parker and incoming freshman Zach Zimos. Colorado transfer Jake Yurachek leads a group of walk-on players who have a chance to make contributions. Morgan had 24 tackles in 2018 and is someone the Hogs can count on if an injury hits Harris or Pool. Zimos was outstanding in high school.
Arkansas has got to get the numbers up at linebacker and they are recruiting to do that beginning with the Class of 2020.
Among the targets in 2020 who are slated to be at Arkansas on July 26 for the cookout are Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Oakland’s Aaron Moore, Bryant’s Catrell Wallace and the Memphis Whitehaven pair of Martavius French and Bryson Eason.
In 2021, Arkansas has offered Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff’s pair of linebackers in Jai and Jalen Jones. Their dad, JJ Jones, was from Magnolia and played at Arkansas. Those two and Bentonville’s Cole Joyce, who hasn’t been offered yet, but is being recruited, will be at the cookout as well.