Gaps left to fill for Ra­zor­backs re­ceivers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - NATE ALLEN

FAYET­TEVILLE — The Arkansas Ra­zor­backs have so many au­di­tion­ing to re­place four 2016 grad­u­ates in the re­ceivers ro­ta­tion that even their head coach and quar­ter­back couldn’t in­clude them all by con­sen­sus.

Bret Bielema, the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville, head coach, and fifth-year se­nior quar­ter­back Austin Allen of Fayet­teville sep­a­rately were asked about the wide re­ceivers dur­ing the Ra­zor­backs’ Mon­day ses­sion of SEC foot­ball me­dia days in Hoover, Ala.

The 2016 Ra­zor­backs grad­u­ated a com­bined 135 catches, 1,877 yards and 13 touch­downs among wide­outs Drew Mor­gan, Keon Hatcher, Do­minique Reed and Cody Hol­lis­ter.

Returning Ra­zor­backs re­ceivers com­bined for 35 catches in 2016.

Jared Cor­nelius caught 32.

No won­der that with­out the other present to fill in the blanks that Bielema and Allen, be­yond Cor­nelius, didn’t al­ways in­ter­sect on likely an­swers to the Ra­zor­backs’ re­ceivers ques­tions.

“At wide re­ceiver,” Bielema said, “we signed two ju­nior play­ers [ Brandon Martin and Jonathan Nance] that I feel re­ally have adopted the game well and have made a nice im­pact as well as a cou­ple of younger play­ers in our pro­gram, Deon Ste­wart and LaMichael Pettway, that I think can step up in a role that’s pretty sig­nif­i­cant.”

Pettway, a sopho­more from Nashville, had a 10-yard touch­down catch dur­ing the 2016 rout over Al­corn State, and Ste­wart, a sopho­more from Hardy, had two catches for 34 yards, caught the only 2016 passes among the returning re­ceivers that Cor­nelius didn’t.

Asked whom he ex­pected to throw to be­sides Cor­nelius, Allen men­tioned trans­fers Martin and Nance, who were team­mates last sea­son at Mis­sis­sippi Gulf Coast Com­mu­nity Col­lege, Pettway and Jor­dan Jones, the speedy red­shirt fresh­man from Smack­over.

Now re­mem­ber, this was me­dia day rapid-fire on-TV ques­tions with­out pause to re­flect.

Last spring, Bielema and Allen touted them all and also cited T.J. Ham­monds, who moved from run­ning back last spring.

At re­ceiver, the Hogs may seem to be re­ly­ing on Pigs in a poke but they are gifted Pigs that will poke through de­fenses, Allen as­serts.

“There’s a lot of young tal­ent on the team,” Allen said. “This time next year, you guys will be say­ing, ‘The guy who will be quar­ter­back has a snack bar full of re­ceivers.’ I think those young guys are ready to come out and make a dif­fer­ence.”

Es­pe­cially Allen said, with se­nior Cor­nelius “lead­ing” them this year.

Bielema con­curs cit­ing Cor­nelius’ triple threat as a re­ceiver, rusher on re­verses and punt re­turner.

“We did a post­sea­son study that showed he was one of the most pro­duc­tive slot re­ceivers in all of col­lege foot­ball last year,” Bielema said.

MEL CRANSTON REMEMBERED

Those close to the Oak­lawn scene in the 1990s will be sad­dened to learn that Mel Cranston, owner of Cranston Sta­bles, died Sun­day days af­ter a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent.

Known through­out Fayet­teville as the for­mer pro­pri­etor of the Tim’s Pizza restau­rants, Mel had been out of rac­ing for a while but never away from his care for horses. Be­tween their re­tired thor­ough­breds more than dou­bled by their res­cue adop­tions, Mel and his late wife Shirley had some 18 horses still on their farm.

Cor­nelius

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