Grad Transfers Bring Winning Habits to University of Arkansas

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) throws a pass as he is pressured by Miami defensive lineman Scott Patchan (71) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas added five graduate transfers in the Class of 2020 and it appears they got players who know how to win.

The five recruits combined to go 50-17 in 2019 with seven of those losses at Duke. The other four schools combined to go 45-10.

Because of injuries or limited playing time it could argued maybe some of these five weren’t necessarily responsible for their school being that good. But, a better argument would each of the five were involved in programs that helped them develop winning habits. Duke was 8-5 the previous season.

In 2019, quarterback Feleipe Franks and Florida finished 11-2, linebacker Levi Draper and Oklahoma was 12-2, kicker AJ Reed and Duke were 5-7, defensive tackle Xavier Kelly and Clemson finished 14-1 while Arkansas State and defensive back Jerry Jacobs were 8-5.

Why is this important? Pretty simple, Arkansas has won eight games combined in the past three seasons. It’s not only hoped that each of the five newcomers provides a boost in talent, but also brings some leadership and winning ways to the program.

At Florida, Franks completed 367 of 622 passes for 4,593 yards, 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed 189 times for 438 yards and eight touchdowns.

In 2018, Franks and the Gators finished 10-3. Franks put together a season that wasn’t much different than that of LSU’s Joe Burrow. Franks completed 188 of 322 passes for 2,457 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed 110 times for 359 yards and seven touchdowns. By comparison, Burrow completed 219 of 379 passes for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He rushed 128 times for 399 yards and seven touchdowns. LSU, like Florida, finished 10-3. Burrow went on to win the Heisman in 2019, lead LSU to the national championship and became the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jacobs, like Franks, was injured in 2019. He suffered an injury against Georgia that ended his season. Jacobs still managed 21 tackles, 16 solo, one for loss and a pair of pass breakups. Jacobs can help at cornerback or safety.

Draper has played behind some talented players at Oklahoma and also had different position coaches each season. He had three tackles in 2019, but should get a chance for an expanded role at Arkansas.

Reed figures to be the replacement for Connor Limpert. In 2019, Reed was successful on 15 of 18 field goals with a long of 51 while hitting each of his 34 point after touchdowns. He scored 79 points on the season.

Kelly played 87 snaps at Clemson in 2019. He finished with nine tackles, 0.5 sack, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. In three seasons with the Tigers, Kelly had 26 tackles, one for loss, 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and a recovered one. He played 256 snaps in three seasons at Clemson. He will be among the candidates to replace McTelvin Agim and T.J. Smith in Arkansas’ interior defensive line.

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