FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaiah Sategna brought back memories Saturday of his days at Fayetteville High School where he dominated on the football field.

In Arkansas’ final spring scrimmage, Sategna caught three passes for 95 yards. He had a 65-yard touchdown catch from KJ Jefferson and one of 17 from Cade Fortin. Sategna agrees that he’s much more confident in his game now than when he first reported.

“I feel like I’m a lot better player than I was last year,” Sategna said. “Just the new schemes that we’re drawing up and stuff. They’re throwing great passes and stuff. Like I said in my earlier interview, I’ve just got to do the easy part. I’ve just got to catch the ball. They’re doing the hard part.”

On the long touchdown pass he caught from Jefferson it was against Antonio Grier Jr., a talented linebacker, but not many, if any, at that position are going to win a battle against Sategna. Jefferson saw the matchup and decided to go for it.

“I did actually,” Jefferson said. “The play call that we had called, I’m going through my normal routine when I got out there. I’m looking at the D-line, understanding what front their in. I’m looking at the boundary triangle, the field triangle, the levels of the safeties. I’m going through my routine and I noticed that they were trying to disguise Tampa 2, so the safety was really far up the hash.

“I knew I was going to Isaiah the whole time, because the MIKE had to carry the slot. Just being able to just sit back there poised in the pocket and wait on Isaiah to make his move and use his athleticism, [I needed] just to give him a good ball. He just had to catch the ball. That’s all he had to do. He did it, and I’m proud of him understanding the details of the route and understanding the scheme that was called.”

Sategna then talked about what he had to do after Jefferson got the ball to him.

“I had seen Snaxx (Johnson) tucked in a little bit,” Sategna said. “It looked like he going to maybe blitz, which was the nickel. I knew that it was going to be 1-on-1 with the MIKE linebacker, which was Grier and stuff, so I had cleared him. I was looking for the ball then saw it coming. I had to make the catch and then go score.”

It seemed like after spring break that Sategna really caught fire. Sam Pittman observed the same thing.

“I do,” Pittman said. “You sit there and talk about his momma being a great athlete and his daddy being a coach and I think all that helps because you’re constantly talking about it when you’re in the home. 

“But it also talks about the discipline you have to have to win state championships and all of that. I think everybody who’s played any sport, there’s a time when it goes (snap). I think when he came back from spring break it just clicked. I’m looking around, there’s not a whole lot of athletes in here, but if there was an athlete in here, it just clicked. And I wasn’t either by the way. And it just clicked for him.”

It was obviously hard on the four-star recruit and top player in the state in his class to redshirt in 2022, but Pittman feels it was a benefit to Sategna.

“I think a lot. I mean he’s much bigger if you look at him,” Pittman said. “He’s much thicker than what he was. His confidence is way up. It’s one thing to have confidence in high school and it’s another one to get here and .. the game is so fast. Y’all see it out there. The closer you get to the game it’s fast. To play quarterback, to play wideout and make these adjustments on the run. It’s split second decisions. He’s got that ability to separate when he’s able to do that and now he’s able to do that and you now see his true speed.”

Sategna agreed with his coach about the redshirt year being a great benefit.

“I’m really happy I was able to redshirt last year,” Sategna said. “I mean, it helped me a lot, because it made me work harder in the offseason. Like, I worked on a lot of stuff that was my weaknesses. I still need to work on a lot of things, but I’m really glad that I got to redshirt.”

Jefferson feels very comfortable throwing the football to Sategna and talked about that following the scrimmage.

“He’s made great strides this spring,” Jefferson said. “He’s really embraced it. That whole receiver room has really embraced the competition level. They come in each and every day ready to work. In that room, it’s just iron sharpening iron. I’m glad Isaiah got to showcase his talents today, his athleticism. He made some really good catches down the field and across the middle and stuff like that. We always knew that Isaiah had the potential to play in this league and just being able to just showcase his talents today is really just amazing.”

The only interception of the day came when LaDarrius Bishop picked off a Jacolby Criswell pass that was tipped by Grier. It appeared Bishop might take it a 100 yards for a touchdown, but Sategna had a different thought.

“I mean, I had saw him get the pick and stuff, and really what I was thinking was DK Metcalf, whenever he had ran down that guy,” Sategna said. “So I was like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s not going to score on that,’ so I just wanted to make it known that he wasn’t going to score on that.”

Sategna and Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Little Rock against Western Carolina at War Memorial Stadium.