FAYETTEVILLE — It appears wide receiver will be one of the strengths of the 2020 football team at Arkansas.
Sam Pittman likes what he has seen from that group particularly with junior Mike Woods stepping up and working hard.
“There are several guys that stick out at the receiver spot, but Mike Woods works his tail off,” Pittman said. “Treylon Burks, for being a big kid can really run. He has some good hips.”
Pittman also named several leaders on the team including one at wide receiver.
“I think Mike Woods is a guy that has done that,” Pittman said.
Woods led the Hogs with 33 receptions for 423 yards and four touchdowns in 2019. Burks added 29 catches for 475 yards while Trey Knox caught 28 balls for 385 yards and three touchdowns. Tyson Morris added 13 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. De’Vion Warren caught four passes for 19 yards while Koilan Jackson had three receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown. John David White who caught two passes for 27 yards also returns. Pittman is elated to have them all back plus Justin Stepp who coached that unit last year.
“Well, I think the first thing about that group is their coach is back with Stepp, so that probably made their transition a little bit easier for them,” Pittman said. “Then Kendal Briles is a very personable guy who knows how valuable this group is to us. They’ve worked really hard. I like De’Vion Warren in that group, too. He’s done a nice job with Morris and Koilan Jackson. Those are probably, right now, the top six kids that we have at that position. I’ve already mentioned Knox, Burks and Woods. But those are probably the top six guys we have at that position.
“We really don’t have much coming in from the freshman class because Darin Turner is already here and he’s doing a nice job, but it’ll take a little bit for him probably to adjust. But those six guys have done a good job.”
Pittman also talked about what went into his decision to retain Stepp from the previous staff.
“In all honesty we were going to visit with everybody (on the last staff),” Pittman said. “Stepp volunteered to go on the road with me, which meant something to me, and I saw how coaches looked at him, recruits we were recruiting looked at him. There were a couple of coaches who held me back after we were getting ready to leave and talked to me personally about him. I don’t think he arranged that. I think they felt adamant that he was a good man and good football coach. Obviously I had seen what he recruited in the room before I got here, and he has strong ties in east Texas, which I think we need.
“I was able to offer him the job that he had back to him, and he was very grateful, very thankful. He’s a good person, (has a) good family, and again he fit in that ‘good man, good communicator’ role that I had kind of set for who I wanted to hire, so we hired him. I had several guys I could have hired as receivers coach and I’m sure they would have done a nice job, but I felt because he was so good in the 3-4 days I was with him before I offered him the job that we ought to keep him and keep some continuity from the previous staff.”