Arkansas Football Player and John Calipari-Pummeling Hero Wowed Others on the Same Court

Jack Gohlke, Ronnie Fouch, Arkansas football, Oakland basketball, NCAA Tournament, March Madness, Kentucky basketball
photo credit: Oakland Athletics / Craven Whitlow

Razorback wide receiver Isaac TeSlaa and his father, Mark, are naturally huge Razorback fans, but they also pull hard for the Detroit Lions and Hillsdale College Chargers. Hillsdale, a Division II college in south central Michigan, is where TeSlaa starred before joining the Hogs out of the transfer portal last offseason.

Given Mark was also a Hillsdale football player, it’s no surprise they take an especially strong interest when a fellow former Charger shows out on the national scene.

That’s exactly what happened with Jack Gohlke, a standout on the Hillsdale basketball team for a couple seasons before transferring to Division I Oakland before 2023-24, captured the heart of America with a scintillating shooting performance that led to yet another first-round exit by John Calipari’s Kentucky basketball program. This time around, it was No. 14 seed beating the Wildcats as a No. 3 seed.

Here’s JJ Watt, Bret Bielema’s star defensive lineman at Wisconsin, giving his fellow townsman much love:

Isaac TeSlaa and his dad watched the second half stunning upset on TV, Mark TeSlaa said in a message to Best of Arkansas Sports. He added that his son was “very proud a former Hillsdale bball player was representing well.”

Isaac decided to transfer to Arkansas because, in part, he wanted to test himself against the best of the best in SEC football. Gohlke, meanwhile, put the most prestigious program in SEC basketball – and the most winning program in college basketball – on high alert by serving up Calipari’s latest embarrassing moment.

John Calipari Really Takes a Tumble

“He’s gone four years without an SEC title and this year, he turned a No. 1 recruiting class and the best 3-point-shooting team in program history into the second-most humiliating NCAA Tournament loss this blue blood has ever suffered,” as The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker wrote. On top of that, John Calipari’s record vs. ranked competition in the past four seasons is 11-18. In the 10 years prior to that, the Wildcats were 63-33 vs. ranked foes.

Not including the lost COVID season, Kentucky has failed to reach the Sweet 16 four straight years — tied for the longest such drought in school history. The last such streak, which was from 2006-09, resulted in Tubby Smith resigning and Billy Gillispie being fired.

There’s plenty of calling for Calipari’s head from the Kentucky basketball side these days despite his $33 million buyout:

Much blame for the recent failures stems from Calipari’s insistence on sticking to giving the majority of minutes to ultra-talented true freshmen while playing against competition that has larger gotten older thanks to transfer portal.

“The guys on Kentucky will be far better pros than any of these guys on Oakland or any of these guys in the tournament, but they’re not as good college basketball players,” CBS Sports analyst Jay Wright said. “At this point in their career, they’re not as disciplined as the guys from Oakland. It’s not [Calipari’s] fault. It’s that they’re 18-years-old and they’re in this era where everyone’s telling them how great they are, ‘Just show up in college and you’re going to win.’ It doesn’t happen that way. And the more the guys stay in college because of NIL, it’s gonna be tougher for young teams like this to be successful.”

Jack Gohlke and TeSlaa Share More Than a Court

Sixth-year senior Jack Gohlke, at 24 years old, perfectly represents the anti-youth movement to which Calipari has struggled to adjust.

Unlike TeSlaa, it took him a few years at Hillsdale to break out. Even in Gohlke’s second year in the program, as a redshirt freshman, he could hardly get on the floor.

Persistence and hard work, though, eventually paid off and as a fifth-year senior Gohlke earned first-team all-conference honors in 2022-23.

While TeSlaa and Jack Gohlke didn’t really know each other while on the same campus, according to Mark TeSlaa, they have shared a similar tenacious work ethic and dedication to their crafts. As an example, Gohlke has put on about 20 pounds of muscle in college while TeSlaa added 30 pounds. For TeSlaa, some of that journey also meant developing a 40-inch vertical jump in his years there.

Early on in that path, he took the same Hillsdale court where Gohlke honed his now-renowned outside shot, to show off some impressive hops:

TeSlaa and Gohlke aren’t the only Hillsdale standouts to go to bigger stages in their respective sports, either. TeSlaa is one of four Hillsdale football players to transfer to Division I schools in the last few years. On the basketball side, Colorado State’s Patrick Cartier was a two-time conference player of the year at Hillsdale. He tallied 12 points against Virginia in the play-in game and added 4 points n the loss to Texas on Thursday.

And who knows how big of a mark Gohlke and his not-so-fast-on-the-Cinderella-descriptor Oakland Golden Grizzlies end up making on this particular NCAA Tournament. On Saturday night, Oakland takes on No. 11 seed NC State with a Sweet 16 appearance on the line(the Wolfpack are favored by 6.5 points).

“I feel like Hillsdale is a place where if you are good and you got overlooked, it’s a place where you can come in and shine and allow other programs to come and look at you that may have missed you the first time around,” TeSlaa said on the Great Lakes Football Podcast.

Don’t expect the DII-to-DI pipeline to slow down any time soon, either. Even Arkansas basketball coaches have contacted a local DII star in Arkansas Tech’s Taelon Peter.

The Arkansas Football WR Room

Last season, Isaac TeSlaa started every game and played a whooping 662 total offensive snaps. He was also the Razorbacks’ second-leading wide receiver, but finished the year with only 34 receptions for 351 yards and two touchdowns.

Based on the first handful of practices this spring, though, getting on the field that much as a super senior will be a challenge for TeSlaa.

Fellow super seniors and second-year transfers Andrew Armstrong and Tyrone Broden have emerged as the clear top two receivers. They seem to have really good chemistry with Boise State transfer Taylen Green and have routinely made big plays in practice.

TeSlaa has gotten his fair share of first-team snaps, as the receivers typically rotate more than other positions, but he’s also worked quite a bit with the second team and appears to be behind Armstrong and Broden as an outside receiver.

Although he’s made some really tough contested catches, TeSlaa has still struggled to create separation, which was probably the area in which he struggled the most last season.

However, it’s still too early to completely write him off. After all, the Razorbacks did bring in a a new wide receiver coach in Ronnie Fouch and of course an offensive genius in Bobby Petrino to call the shots this year and if anyone can scheme up ways to utilize TeSlaa’s athleticism, it’s him.


Andrew Hutchinson contributed to the above.

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