FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas defense will have a lot of new faces playing key roles this fall and some of the key ones may be redshirt freshmen.
Arkansas has added six new scholarship defensive transfers and all are expected to play key roles for Barry Odom. However, a few younger Razorbacks who were on the team last fall, but redshirted are also expected to step up.
Here’s a closer look at three redshirt freshmen on defense who need to step up this fall.
Cameron Ball, DL, 6-5, 313, Atlanta (Ga.) Tri-Cities
Was one of the standouts in Arkansas’ Class of 2021. He saw action in two games in 2021 finishing with a tackle and one quarterback hurry. Ball drew praise from all the other defensive players in the spring who were asked about him as well as Sam Pittman. Ball has the size to make an impact. Arkansas has added Terry Hampton from Arkansas State to play on the interior defensive line. Arkansas is still seeking one more interior defensive lineman. The portal at that position doesn’t still have a John Ridgeway remaining so the Hogs have offered a junior college player. But even if he comes much will still be on Ball’s shoulders to help this fall in a big way. Isaiah Nichols and Taurean Carter had good springs. However, Carter suffered a knee injury on the third play of the scrimmage on April 16. He has had surgery and no timetable is known on his return.
Chris “Pooh” Paul, LB, 6-1, 232, Cordele (Ga.) Crisp County
He played in four games in 2021 thus preserving his redshirt year. He had one tackle and 0.5 for loss. With Grant Morgan, Hayden Henry and other linebackers gone then Paul is expected to have a very big role this fall. He ran first-team linebacker opposite Bumper Pool until he suffered a concussion in the first scrimmage and missed some time. He is likely to be on the second unit with Alabama transfer Drew Sanders moving into the starting lineup. Regardless of that, Paul is expected to have a large role on the Arkansas defense. He, Jackson Woodard and Jordan Crook could all see a lot of action. Paul was highly recruited out of high school. He originally committed to Nebraska, but then opted to switch to Arkansas. The Razorbacks are obviously elated he made the change.
Keuan Parker, CB, 5-11, 178, Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington
Parker was making plays during the spring in hopes of moving up on the depth chart. Not much was said about Parker until the April 16 scrimmage. Pittman raved about Parker following that scrimmage. It appears he has moved into position to challenge for extensive playing time. Arkansas has LSU transfer Dwight McGlothern apparently in line to replace Montaric Brown. Hudson Clark and Ladarrius Bishop are back at the other corner as are others. If Parker could break into the top four with McGlothern, Bishop and Clark he will see a lot of action. He was highly recruited out of Tulsa with the Hogs winning the recruiting battle for him. He comes from the same high school that produced Felix Jones, Eric Bennett, Jared Collins and others who had success with the Hogs.