By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt sophomore Malik Hornsby enters preseason camp working at both quarterback and wide receiver which was expected.
Sam Pittman met with reporters on Wednesday and discussed various football topics including will Hornsby be a quarterback or wide receiver or both?
“Well, I tell you this,” Pittman said. “We’re formatting our practice so Malik can do both. In the past we’ve gone ones and freshmen, then 2s and 3s on the opposite field. But this year we’re going to go 1s and 2s and that way we can keep Malik on that field so we can practice him at wide receiver. I’ll just tell you this: I’ve told him that we need him on the field. He has to earn the right to get on the field but we need him on the field. We think he’s an excellent football player. So we are obviously going to give him the … there’s a fine line … give him the opportunity to win the job but at the same time give him the opportunity to win the wide receivers spot too. So we’ve got a plan for it. I hope it works and I feel like it will.”
If KJ Jefferson, as expected, is your quarterback moving into the season and Hornsby is playing the majority of his snaps at wide receiver would he still be the No. 2 quarterback or would that go to Cade Fortin?
“What afforded us to do this in the first place was Cade Fortin,” Pittman said. “I think we all have a lot of confidence in him. So that kind of afforded us … you know if you don’t have a 3 that’s ready then you better not move your No. 2 quarterback out to wide receiver. But with Fortin and how he came on this spring we felt like we were able to do this. Honestly the first time Fortin took us down in a two-minute situation, after that day was when we really started thinking about Malik playing wide receiver at that point.”
In the spring, Hornsby was outstanding at wide receiver. He stretched the field and gave Jefferson a deep target to throw to. Hornsby is one of the fastest Razorbacks and showed outstanding hands at wide receiver. In 2021, Hornsby played in seven games. According to Pro Football Focus, appeared in 81 offensive snaps. He completed 5 of 12 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown to go along with 135 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
Playing behind Jefferson last season and seeing extensive action in the second half of the 20-10 win over Texas A&M has made a Hornsby a better quarterback.
“I think Malik is night and day better quarterback that what he was last year,” Pittman said. “I think it benefitted him. I think it benefitted him big-time. I think it says a lot about Malik and it also says a lot about KJ. When Malik went into the transfer portal over the bowl whatever KJ was the biggest one trying to get him back. It takes two people to understand where you are at on the depth chart and understand there is still competition. But understand what it’s like today. Today I’m two and you are one. So let me learn from you if that makes sense.”
Arkansas will practice for the first time on Friday. Reporting day is Thursday. The Razorbacks will open the season at home on Saturday, Sept. 3, against Cincinnati at 2:30 p.m. and televised on ESPN.