FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Much has been said about players who just need a fresh start in the transfer portal.
That is true. Sometimes a guy just needs to walk away from everyone and reset everything for a coach to see him for who he is without all the baggage to reach his true potential.
If it’s easy for fans to see the benefits of a fresh start with an individual player, why can’t it be the same for an entire program?
College football teams often have renewed energy and bounce back to do great things with a change in voice and perspective when a new head coach takes over, so why can’t it be the same at towards ?
In football, coaches haven’t been able to clear the room and press the restart button for an entire football team, but Sam Pittman has the chance to do just that.
He has already brought in a strong recruiting class that can be matched to the mentality he expects from his players. Now Pittman has the chance to introduce a second full recruiting class made up entirely of transfer portal players who should not only provide an upgrade in the talent level of the staff they are meant to replace, but they should also s adapt to a specific mentality. -up required to compete in the SEC.
If Pittman plays this right, he can create a completely revamped and vastly improved football team while leaving behind any negative drama from the previous group of Razorbacks.
The Hogs were in desperate need of an overhaul. Outside of No. 3 linebacker Jackson Woodard and defensive lineman Isaiah Nichols, all Arkansas lost were guys who would rarely, if ever, go out on the field, players with discipline issues hanging over their head or who had playing time but shouldn’t have been able to be on a properly built SEC team.
Some would say Jalen Catalon was a big loss and they’d be right – two years ago when the Razorbacks actually lost him.
Talent does the Hogs no good if it can only be used to do UAMS commercials.
If he had come into the season and bumped his shoulder again in another non-contact moment, Catalon wouldn’t even have been good for it. No one would take their athletes to UAMS if it looked like they weren’t able to get a former NFL draft pick back in the field long term.
There might be a small case for the loss of Trey Knox and Ketron Jackson, but you’re talking about a wide receiver who had to be forced into the body of a little tight end and a wide receiver who was just starting to showing a glimmer of hope that he could become an SEC receiver after averaging less than one catch and 15 yards per game over two years.
Arkansas has a first tight end in Luke Hasz and possibly an elite second tight end in Shemar Easter who not only provides real bodies and experience, but now has more opportunities to develop quickly under tight ends trainer Morgan Turner without Knox taking off reps and the potential awkward moments “Dowell Loggains said do it this way.”
The transition to a new era in this position will now be clean.
It would have been nice to see if Jackson could get over the mountain and deliver on the promise he showed in high school, but it was a big if, and the transfer portal has a whole team of receivers. who bring what Jackson was going to deliver or better, so the team improves by having at least someone of equal talent who wants to be in Arkansas.
Overall, cleaning up so much of the roster is a boon for a program that was spinning its tires in the mud when it needed an opportunity to move on.
The Liberty Bowl win over Kansas was particularly helpful with so many missing from the roster, as it gave coaches a chance to more deeply assess remaining talent and see who has the ability to develop to the level needed. to be an SEC West contender and needs a moment of honest explanation about the value of playing time and education at a Five Five school.
While the situation provides a complete reset, it also starts the clock on Pittman in regards to demonstrating that he can produce a team that can compete in SEC West and whatever mutant version of it will exist. once Texas and Oklahoma join the party.
It will be cleared of all but the most salvageable remnants of the Chad Morris era. This will be a team truly of Pittman’s vision.
Considering he’s capable of getting three years of dismantling in a single offseason this year, the race for SEC relevance is two, three years away, before a lack of high passing only makes the house that Pittman built or handed over to someone else. .
This is a unique opportunity in history that Pittman received. The history of Razorback football over the next few years and perhaps in the training regimes that follow will be what he makes of it.
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