Simeon Blair Has Been Part of Arkansas’ Turnaround, Looking Forward to Outback Bowl

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Photo Courtesy: University of Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — Safety Simeon Blair walked on at Arkansas out of Pine Bluff in the Class of 2018.

While at Arkansas, Blair has part of teams that weren’t very good and now on ones who are very competitive in the SEC and nation. Blair and the Razorbacks are practicing preparing for the New Year’s Bowl game against Penn State. Blair gave his thoughts on facing Penn State.

“Well, you know, that’s, that’s what we love to do,” Blair said. “I mean, you give us an opponent and we just go out there and we execute what our coaches give us, that just makes us keep working the same way we’ve been working.”

Blair added his parents are also very excited about the game and are headed to Tampa to watch it.

“My family, they’re loving it right now,” Blair said. “They can’t wait to get on the plane to come to Tampa to watch the game. And being from Arkansas, that’s just, like, an accomplishment to be able to make your home state proud, to make all the fans proud of, you know, us just being who we know that we can be. And this coming to happen, it’s coming to happen this year, that just really feels like a big accomplishment for us.”

Arkansas is still working more on itself than the Nittany Lions, but Blair has been doing some prep work on his own.

“I mean, we’ve looked at them,” Blair said. “We have our little cut-ups and everything. They’ve really been letting us get done with finals and everything, but I’ve been watching them a little bit here and there. Not too much, but we’ve been watching them for a good little point since this week started.”

Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson gets everyone’s attention including Blair. This season, he caught 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns

“I feel like they have some good players,” Blair said. “I feel like it’s nothing that we haven’t really seen. We have to get our game plan from Coach (Barry) Odom and we really just have to execute. We have to make sure we do our jobs from a defensive standpoint.”

This season, Blair and the Razorbacks won all three trophy games. They beat Texas A&M 20-10, LSU 16-13 in overtime and Missouri 34-17. Sam Pittman plans for the team to travel together to Tampa.

“There’s two things,” Pittman said. “No. 1, I want the team to go down [together]. Now how they get home, that’s a different story because they’re going to have basically have two-plus weeks off. But I want to travel as a team No. 1.

“No. 2, I want to take the team picture that we had talked about. And everybody needs to be here. So we’re going to have our suits on take a picture before we leave in the stadium with the three trophies.”

Blair talked about Pittman and how he makes the players want to play hard for him.

“I mean, I feel like that’s him letting us know that he’s proud of us,” Blair said. “That just allows us to keep working hard because when you have a coach that’s proud of you, it makes you want to play harder for that guy because he shows us off to the world as much as he can. So we have to play hard for him. That makes me want to play harder for him because of how proud he is of us.”

Arkansas, like most other teams around the nation, have had players enter the transfer portal since the end of the season. Blair talked about the transfer portal and how it has changed things.

“I feel like it’s a weird deal,” Blair said. “But I feel like for me and Isaiah (Nichols), we’ve both been here for a few years now. So, it’s kind of like you have that little timing when there’s players who are leaving and players who are staying. So I feel like we’ve experienced that, so I don’t feel like it comes to you as a shock anymore right now because we’ve been playing for three to four years. But when you first get in here, and you see those guys leave, it is very different to you. You expecting to be there with your friends and with your brothers for those four full years while you’re in college. But sometimes plans change, so I feel like it’s not as much of a shock to me now as it was when I first came into college.”

Another change in college football is everyone who was in school in 2020 getting a COVID year if they want it. No team took more advantage of that this year than the Razorbacks. Blair credited the large group Arkansas has with helping get to 8-4 as well as some transfers who came to play for the Hogs in addition to underclassmen returning for 2021 season.

“I felt like the experience, I feel like those guys like Isaiah said, ‘Kell (Markell Utsey), Tre Williams, (John) Ridgeway, and also Busta (Montaric Brown) coming back for another year, they brought that experience and that, even though another group of guys came in, they brought that work ethic because they had that experience,” Blair said. “And they felt like, if you want to get to the top, you have to train, you got to watch film. I feel like they did a good job of just giving the young guys experience and a lot of knowledge.”

Arkansas and Penn State will kickoff at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day and the game televised on the SEC Network.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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