FAYETTEVILLE — Jon Cooper has the least experienced unit on the team, but that doesn’t mean no talent is available.
Gone are Cheyenne O’Grady, Chase Harrell, Hayden Johnson, Grayson Gunter and Trey Purifoy who played tight end in 2019. The team will return senior Blake Kern, redshirt freshman Hudson Henry and true freshman Blayne Toll.
Former Illinois State and Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias tight end Nathan Bax is also on the team now. In the fall, the Hogs will welcome in two more tight ends. Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus’ Collin Sutherland signed with Arkansas on Feb. 5. In addition, Bentonville West’s Jonas Higson will be a preferred walk-on with the Hogs. He turned down various offers to attend Arkansas.
Toll, 6-5, 244, was signed on Dec. 18 to play defensive lineman. However, he played all over the field on both sides of the ball for Hazen. Toll enrolled at midterm and will go through spring drills. At Hazen this past season, Toll caught 14 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed six times for 67 yards and a touchdown. His one pass went for a 51-yard touchdown.
Kern, 6-4, 256, is a former walk-on player from Lamar. He was placed on scholarship prior to the 2019 season. At Lamar in 2015, Kern caught 16 passes for 332 yards and nine touchdowns while also rushing 88 times for 675 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 61 tackles, including two for loss, a pair of sacks, three interceptions, a forced fumble, one recovered and a pass deflection. He is considered a very good blocker.
Henry, 6-5, 238, was considered one of the elite tight ends in the nation when he was at Pulaski Academy. He played in three games in 2019 thus keeping his redshirt. He caught three passes for 15 yards. As a senior for the Bruins in 2018, Henry caught 86 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is the younger brother of Hunter Henry, a former Mackey Award winner for the Hogs. Henry could be set for a breakout season under Cooper.
Bax, 6-4, 240, is from the same high school as preferred walk-on commitment Vito Calvaruso who will be at Arkansas in the summer. As a senior at Helias in 2017, Bax finished with 23 receptions, averaging 13.8 yards per catch. On defense, recorded 73 total tackles, including eight for loss and 4.5 sacks. It appears he redshirted at Illinois State in 2018 and then sat at out 2019 which would make him eligible at Arkansas in 2020 if that is correct.
Sutherland, 6-5, 240, had a very good senior season at Marcus. He caught 35 passes for 329 yards and eight touchdowns. Sutherland flipped to Arkansas from UNLV prior to signing with the Hogs.
Higson, 6-2, 220, played running back and some receiver in addition to linebacker for Bentonville West. The team didn’t use a tight end. As a senior, 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, including 39 solo, four sacks, two interceptions and four pass breakups.