FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is missing three tight ends who caught passes during the 2019 season and that position is one of the question marks on offense.
However, Sam Pittman made the decision to move true freshman Blayne Toll to tight end once the Hogs secured the signature of defensive lineman Xavier Kelly. Toll signed with Arkansas thinking he would be a defensive lineman, but instead he will be a tight end.
“Well, first of all, he’ll do anything for the team,” Pittman said. “He’s such a great kid. Second of all, we feel like we needed another tight end. Well, when he was running in the offseason, the guy can fly. It doesn’t hurt to have somebody who can fly off the defensive edge, too, we know that. But the bottom line is we basically said if we get Xavier Kelly that we were going to move Blayne over to tight end and see if he couldn’t help us.”
If Kelly hadn’t signed with the Hogs then a former North Texas quarterback could have been moved to tight end. Cade Pearson, like Toll, enrolled at Arkansas at midterm.
“If we didn’t, we were going to leave Blayne there, and maybe move a kid like Cade Pearson, or somebody like that, to tight end, who is a hard-working kid with a good body on him,” Pittman said. “He’s got good size. So when we got Kelly the next day, we talked to Blayne and he was very positive about the move. He’s done a really good job over there in the walkthroughs. We felt like we needed to move him if we were going to move him so he didn’t get behind the installs and things of that nature. We moved him over there, and he’s a talented guy. He looks like a tight end, and he can run, so we feel like we’re really fortunate to have him there and on our team, and at that position of tight end.”
In addition to Toll, Arkansas has redshirt freshman Hudson Henry, senior Blake Kern and former Illinois State tight end Nathan Bax, who is a walk-on, on the roster. The Hogs signed Collin Sutherland in February and also have Jonas Higson coming as a preferred walk-on.
“Blake Kern at tight end, he’s a workaholic now,” Pittman said. “That group with him and Henry. Those guys have performed really well.”
Of that group, Henry caught three passes for 15 yards last season. So the group is inexperienced, but could thrive in Kendal Briles’ offense with Feliepe Franks and KJ Jefferson getting them the ball.