FAYETTEVILLE — When Sam Pittman took over as head coach at the University of Arkansas one of his stated goals was to have a very good walk-on program.
It appears judging off the first crack at it he has certainly accomplished that. Some of the new preferred walk-on players enrolled at midterm and at least one more reported with the veterans on June 8.
Former University of Michigan punter George Caratan, 6-2, 221, reported with the upperclassmen since transfers were allowed to do that. He is roommates with kicker AJ Reed.
In addition, Cabot kicker Rhett Thurman, 6-1, 170, and Kilgore (Texas) College quarterback Cade Pearson, 6-3. 223, enrolled at midterm. At Kilgore this past season, Pearson completed 20 of 29 passes for 190 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He also ran 24 times for 141 yards and five touchdowns.
Several other talented players have said they are going to attend Arkansas this year. A couple more specialists are Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias kicker Vito Calvaruso, 6-2, 175, and Shreveport (La.) Calvery Baptist long snapper Eli Chism, 6-2, 225.
Pulaski Academy quarterback Braden Bratcher, 6-0, 185, helped lead the Bruins to the Class 5A state championship. He completed 327 of 483 passes for 5,196 yards, 51 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also rushed 116 times for 826 yards and eight touchdowns. He grabbed two passes for 10 yards and had two tackles as well. He chose Arkansas over SMU and others.
White Hall running back Donte Buckner, 6-1, 192, is one to keep an eye on. As a senior, he rushed for 1,859 yards and 26 touchdowns. That followed a junior season that saw him rush for 1,954 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has good speed.
Justin Stepp is in line to get some future help at wide receiver. Watson Chapel’s Kevin Compton, 6-2, 175, is expected to help along with the Shiloh Christian pair of Truitt Tollett, 6-2, 179, and Beau Cason, 6-4, 205.
Compton played both ways at Watson Chapel. He caught 14 passes for 361 yards and six touchdowns at receiver. He returned 11 kickoffs for 274 yards and a punt for 18. On defense, he finished with 33 tackles, 12 solo, one tackle for loss, two interceptions and a pair of pass breakups.
Cason caught 51 passes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns. Tollett had an amazing 134 receptions for 2,046 yards and 30 touchdowns (a state record). He rushed six times for 11 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Bentonville West’s Jonas Higson, 6-2, 220, will join the tight end room. As a running back and linebacker at Bentonville West, Higson rushed 24 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns. He caught 20 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, Higson had 59 tackles, 39 unassisted, four sacks, two interceptions and four pass breakups.
Linebackers joining the Hogs are Joe T. Robinson’s Chandler McIntosh, 6-2, 225, Little Rock Christian’s Jackson Woodard, 6-3, 220, Harrison’s Brooks BOth, 6-0, 225, and Fayetteville’s Caleb Fields, 6-0, 217.
McIntosh led the entire state in tackles with 213 as a senior. He had 94 solo, 47 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, an interception, five pass breakups, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He helped lead the Senators to the 4A state championship.
Both had 115 tackles, 51 solo, two for loss, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and one recovered. Woodard finished with 153 tackles, two sacks and four forced fumbles. Fields had 29 tackles, including eight solo, two sacks, four quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Dumas athlete Chris Harris, 5-11, 182, could play any number of positions. As a senior, he rushed for 414 yards and seven touchdowns on 69 attempts while also completing 29 of 54 passes for 380 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions. He returned three kickoffs for 79 yards. As a junior, Harris completed 133 of 208 passes for 1,807 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed 191 times for 1,539 yards and 21 touchdowns. He had 18 tackles and three pass breakups on defense.