FAYETTEVILLE — KJ Jefferson had an outstanding 2021 season and now offers stability to the quarterback position heading into 2022 when many schools in the SEC won’t have that luxury.

Jefferson earned MVP honors at the Outback Bowl as he completed 14 of 19 passes for 90 yards with one interception. He also rushed 20 times for 110 yards and a touchdown as the Hogs took a 24-10 victory over Penn State. Jefferson talked about winning the MVP.

“Surreal.” Jefferson said. “Me being able to just way ahead of time say I won the MVP trophy, and actually win. Teammates I got, anybody could have won that trophy. They ended up giving it to me. Turning around, showing my family that supporting me, drove all the way down here instead of flying. Shows a lot about my support system, the fans. They’ve been with me every step, having a crowd like that supporting the Arkansas Razorbacks.”

Jefferson and the Razorbacks finished 9-4 on the season. Jefferson feels the Hogs will be in the hunt again next season. The majority of the schools in the SEC will have new quarterbacks in 2022.

“I mean, of course,” Jefferson said. “I feel like heading into the next season, we always have an advantage with the young guys coming in, being able to play out there in the game, giving those guys an opportunity, they’re taking an opportunity. We’re ahead of some programs right now. We’re just going to move forward.”

In 13 games this season, Jefferson led the Hogs in rushing with 146 carries for 664 yards and six touchdowns. He completed 198 of 294 passes for 2,676 yards, 21 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Being a dual-threat quarterback it was incredible that Jefferson made it through all 13 games.

“I want to give credit to the strength staff,” Jefferson said. “Week in and week out they’re hard on me, make sure I’m doing reps, things like that. Also the training schedule, taking care of me, my body, make sure I’m taking care of my body. Even if him 100% healthy, they want me to come in and get treatment because of the physical game we play on Saturday, the SEC also.”

The way Jefferson played this fall it’s easy to forget he only had made two starts entering the season. Sam Pittman praised his quarterback.

“Yeah, I think the best thing that he’s done, obviously he’s throwing the ball better than he ever has, but it’s the way the kids look at him on the team,” Pittman said. “I think you can tell a leader by the way somebody looks at you a lot. The kids look to him because they wouldn’t if he wasn’t tough, they wouldn’t if he made a lot of excuse, they wouldn’t if he’s late to practice, but he’s none of those things. He’s tough.

“He doesn’t make excuses. He takes ownership of what he does, good and bad. He can throw the football. His delivery has really improved this year. We always knew he could run. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know he can run as well as he can until the Rice came when he ran an option and did his little deal, went down the sideline. He’s just really grown. He’s a better person than he was a football player. Really he’s a great kid. That’s usually where your leadership comes from.”