Another Yurachek will once again call Arkansas home, as Brooks Yurachek joined the Razorbacks via the transfer portal this offseason.
The former Fayetteville High standout spent one season as a walk-on linebacker at Wake Forest before opting to return home, where he was an All-State performer in high school.
“I felt like I needed to come back,” Yurachek told Best of Arkansas Sports. “Being in Fayetteville for five years, you realize when you go away how special this place is and how special Arkansas fans are and how special everything is.”
Yurachek is one of two known walk-on transfers for the Razorbacks this cycle, with the other being another homegrown player returning to the state — former Baylor offensive lineman Timothy Dawn out of Camden Fairview. They join 13 scholarship players in a transfer portal haul that currently ranks 23rd nationally, according to On3.
Of course, what makes Brooks Yurachek more unique than most walk-ons is the fact that he’s the youngest son of UA athletics director Hunter Yurachek and the brother of two former Razorbacks. One of his older brothers, Ryan, was a graduate assistant for the Razorbacks, while the other, Jake, was a walk-on linebacker.
“Obviously, I am extremely excited and it makes Jennifer and my fall schedule much easier to have Brooks playing football at Arkansas,” Hunter Yurachek said. “One of the most satisfying parts of my career in college athletics has been to watch each of my three sons participate and compete as student-athletes.”
Brooks Yurachek on the Field
During his final season at Fayetteville High, Brooks Yurachek led the Bulldogs in tackles with 109, a total that included 16 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and came down with an interception.
That helped him earn a preferred walk-on spot at Wake Forest, but he never saw the field as a true freshman. Despite not playing, Yurachek still made the most of the season by soaking up as much as he could from the veterans he played with.
“I already felt like I was an intelligent football player,” Yurachek said. “But being in the linebacker room and not really having any experience, it kind of allowed me to experience what other guys were seeing and learn from seniors and juniors at Wake Forest.”
Of course, where younger players typically make the most strides is in the speed and strength department. Although he didn’t have any specific examples of improvements made in the weight room, Yurachek said he felt it on the practice field.
“I could feel me getting to the ball faster and running around faster when we were doing drills,” Yurachek said. “When I would hit someone, I could feel the strength come into that.”
What it Means for Arkansas Football
Brooks Yurachek enjoyed the coaching staff and fell in love with Wake Forest on his visit, but after just one season with the Demon Deacons, he felt the tug of returning home to Fayetteville.
In doing so, he continues an unusual pipeline of linebackers going from Fayetteville High to Arkansas – one of whom interestingly shares his first name. In the span of about a decade, the Bulldogs have produced Brooks Ellis (Class of 2013), Dre Greenlaw (Class of 2015) and now Yurachek (Class of 2023).
He may be far less decorated when compared to those guys, but Yurachek is joining a linebacker room that looks nothing like it did in 2023. Chris Paul Jr. (Ole Miss), Jaheim Thomas (Wisconsin), Jordan Crook (Arizona State) and Mani Powell (UNLV) transferred out and Antonio Grier exhausted his eligibility.
Those five players accounted for 92.5% of Arkansas’ total linebacker snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus. The only returning linebacker with significant reps is Brad Spence, who played 94 snaps as a true freshman.
Needless to say, there is plenty of playing time up for grabs in 2024. The Razorbacks brought in former five-star recruit Xavian Sorey Jr. as a transfer from Georgia and added a trio of heralded recruits in Bradley Shaw, Justin Logan and Wyatt Simmons.
There’s a good chance Spence, fellow rising sophomore Alex Sanford and those newcomers fill out the two-deep depth chart, but the situation does present more opportunity than normal for a walk-on like Yurachek.
“I’m going to work as hard as I can and kind of see what happens,” Yurachek said. “I’m not going to just lay down and not try to go get a spot, but sometimes God has a plan and that may come in three years, it may come this year, it may not come at all. But I’m going to work as hard as I can to get to where I want to be.”
It wouldn’t be unheard of for Yurachek to carve out a role on defense. Former walk-on Grant Morgan, after all, was an All-American not long ago and even Jackson Woodard played some before transferring to UNLV — but the more likely scenario is that he follows a path similar to that of his brother.
Jake Yurachek was also a walk-on for the Razorbacks. He didn’t play much at linebacker, but was a key special teams contributor. In fact, he was on three units and played 277 special teams snaps over his final two years in Fayetteville.
“(I want to) just do whatever I need to do to make this football team successful, whether that’s being a guy on special teams or playing linebacker or being on the scout team,” Yurachek said. “Anything I can do to make this team be as successful as we can be.”
The Yurachek Family Business
Regardless of how much Brooks Yurachek plays, it’s a noteworthy move because it means yet another member of the Yurachek family is back in Fayetteville.
His father may be the most well-known as the AD, but his two older brother have also spent time at Arkansas — and they’re notable because they didn’t have the same connection to the area as Brooks.
Ryan, the oldest brother, was a standout tight end at Marshall and had a short stint in the NFL before beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Razorbacks. Jake, the middle brother, began his career at Colorado before using the transfer portal to transfer to come to Arkansas.
“There will be the occasional (time) we’ll try to think of something different to talk about, especially when I’m around,” Yurachek said. “Everyone in my family does something with football or athletics right now, so we try to steer the conversations away from that every so often. But most of the time, it always comes back to the conversation of football.”
College athletics has become sort of the family business for the Yuracheks, with Ryan now serving as an offensive analyst at South Carolina and Jake working as the assistant director of athletics development at SMU.
That has created quite the support system for Brooks Yurachek, who leans on his older brothers for advice when it comes to football and said he can call them up whenever he has a question. That will likely continue beyond his playing days, as he wants to get into coaching at the college level when he hangs up the pads.
For their father, it’s been rewarding to not only play the game they love, but stick around the game and somewhat follow in his footsteps.
“I take immense pride in this and it drives me — along with many other reasons — to be a part of the solution to all the challenges we are facing now in this industry,” Hunter Yurachek said. “Ryan, Jake and Brooks’ (and Jennifer for that matter) lives have revolved around my life in college athletics administration.
“As they went through their own experiences as both high school and college student-athletes, they really saw the impact that college athletics can have on a young person. They also saw through my eyes how incredibly rewarding it can be to work in a profession that can have an impact on so many people.”
Of course, being the son of the AD does come with its own unique challenges. Brooks Yurachek is not just an anonymous walk-on who casual fans know nothing about. He has to work even harder to prove he deserves whatever playing time he receives.
Like any son or younger brother, he also wants to make his own name for himself and “become my own person.” More than anything, though, Brooks Yurachek wants to get to know his new teammates, put his head down and get to work preparing for the 2024 Arkansas football season.
“That’s kind of what I’ll focus on in the winter and spring,” Yurachek said. “Making a lot of those connections with these guys and get in there working with them every day.”
Brooks Yurachek isn’t the only Arkansas legacy transferring back home from a North Carolina-based school this offseason. Read about the journey of Romani Thurman, the daughter of Arkansas basketball legend Scotty Thurman:
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