FAYETTEVILLE - The Arkansas Razorbacks might add another new face Saturday in Columbia, S.C. to the new faces who excelled offensively in last Saturday’s 42-24 victory over the New Mexico State Aggies in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks, 2-2, 0-1 in the SEC West, and South Carolina Gamecocks, 3-2, 1-2 in the SEC East, clash in Saturday’s cross divisional clash televised at 3 p.m. CDT by the SEC Network at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
Junior college transfer receiver Jonathan Nance, 6 catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico State, redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Jones of Smackover, four catches for 84 yards, redshirt freshman tight end Cheyenne O’Grady of Fayetteville three catches for 38 yards, and running backs David Willliams, 15 carries for 51 yards and a graduate transfer from the Gamecocks coming back to Columbia, and true freshman Chase Hayden, 12 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico State, were among the Razorbacks excelling last Saturday who didn’t play a game for Arkansas in 2016.
And third-year sophomore Deon Stewart, catching only two passes last season behind four since graduated 2016 seniors plus Jared Cornelius, the 2017 senior lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, caught four passes for 71 yards including a 38-yard touchdown.
“I think outside they're young,” South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp said on Wednesday’s SEC Coaches/Media teleconference. “You look at Jordan Jones and Deon Stewart and Jonathan Nance, they're all guys that are vertical big guys that go down and attack the ball and I think they're coming into their own. O'Grady is a tight end that runs well. Of course we've recruited Jeremy Patton (the heralded junior college transfer currently adding depth behind sophomore Austin Cantrell of Roland, Okla. and O’Grady) here at South Carolina.
Of the three backs we know David well. They've got real good skill people.”
According to many recruiting gurus, Brandon Martin, the starring receiver at Gulfcoast (Miss.) Community College last season while Nance played a supporting role, is supposed to be Arkansas’ best newcomer of all.
So far the Razorbacks haven’t seen it. Martin was injured some and didn’t catch on as fast as Nance to the Arkansas system when they first enrolled at the UA together last January and went through spring practice.
It’s been more of the same this fall. Other than a cameo in the Razorbacks’ 49-7 season-opening rout of lower division Florida A&M, Martin, 6-4, 219, hasn’t been fit to play this season.
He has practiced this week and is said to be healed.
On Wednesday’s teleconference, Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema explained Martin’s earlier injuries to how he has practiced this week.
“He’s been on the verge a couple of different times including our opener,” Bielema said. “Then he tweaked his hammy and was coming back and then re-tweaked it again. He looks great and was out at practice yesterday (Tuesday) and caught all kinds of balls.”
Bielema then described what he’s seen from Martin when healthy.
“Very fast,” Bielema said. “He’s big, he’s athletic. I think down in the red zone he can obviously bring some things to us. Very, very good with the ball in his hands just running it as well. So some reverses and end arounds and stuff like that - he’s a bigger body then some of those other guys. So very, very excited if we get him in the lineup this week and see where it goes.”
Regarding knowing Williams well, and obviously missing him since South Carolina has been struggling to run the ball, Muschamp this week has handled first-class that Williams as graduate student with football eligibility transferred to Arkansas.
Recruited former South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier, Williams had redshirted one year and lettered two years under Spurrier before not playing as much lettering last year under Muschamp.
“He came to me when the year was over and said he wanted a fresh start,” Muschamp said. “He was graduating in May and I totally granted his wish and opportunity. He did everything we asked when he was here. He’s a first-class person and a really good football player. I wish he was here. But at the end of the day he wanted a fresh start. I’m happy for David. He did everything the right way and I really respect that.”
The Razorbacks practiced into Wednesday evening and will have a light practice today before flying Friday to South Carolina.