Other than quarterback and running – positions at which Arkansas has All-SEC talent starting and a clear pecking order behind that player – only one other unit on the roster needed little shaping and molding heading into the regular season.
Consistency should be key for a group looking to replicate last year’s sack totals and improve, even, the front-line guard against the running game.
And while the latter, there, often falls more to the defensive tackles, Arkansas has a group of ends who can stuff the run with the best in the SEC.
Let’s take a look at how they stack up heading into Saturday’s opener.
The former first-team All-SEC selection has been the clear No. 1 since arriving. He doesn’t have the upside of the No. 2 on this list, but having been a regular in the conference for years now has made Trajan Jeffcoat a clear player at the top.
2. Landon Jackson
If things go the way Arkansas coaches think they will, Jackson will end up with better numbers than Jeffcoat. He’s a potential disruptor, a playmaker for Arkansas off the edge. Flashes were seen last year, but now fully healthy and ready to step into a starter’s role, he could break out.
Few players have been as reliable in the Sam Pittman era as Zach Williams. The Natural State native has never quite cracked “regular starter” status, but Williams has been top three in sacks each of the last two years and has been second in tackles among Hogs’ defensive ends each of those seasons, too.
4. John Morgan
John Morgan III was a good player at Pitt, registering six tackles for-loss or more each of the last three years. And while he may be No. 4 on this list, the Hogs under Pittman have rotated ends and tackles with regularity, game-in and game-out.
5. Jashaud Stewart
Stewart should make it a five-man defensive end rotation for Arkansas this season. After missing last year because of injury, Stewart now has a chance to pick up where he left off in 2021, when he was becoming one of the Hogs’ most feared ends.
6. Nico Davillier
Davillier’s first year in the Arkansas system has made him top of Pittman’s mind in the next group after the first five. The future is bright for the Maumelle grad.
7. Quincy Rhodes Jr.
— Quincy Rhodes Jr (@QuincyRhodesJr3) August 25, 2023
Arkansas coaches and fans are hopeful that Rhodes is the next Razorbacks superstar at defensive end. At first blush, Deatrich Wise Jr. comes to mind. Rhodes won’t be Wise in Year One, but hopes are high in the long term.
8. Jon Hill
Committed! Jon has seen his work finally pay off and will be attending the University of Arkansas! @RazorbackFB
— Coach TJ Risner (@CollegeScoutFL) January 27, 2021
Jon Hill is ready to chip if too many players go down and on the scout team.
9. Kaleb James
— Bennett Gainey (@BennettGainey) January 19, 2022
Kaleb James likely needs a complete year in the Arkansas program before any real idea of what his future holds is known.