Trades aren’t part of the college game, but nonetheless the Arkansas football team is trying to pull off a quasi-trade with Boston College.
The Razorbacks have already seen their own Khari Johnson transfer to the Eagles and are now pursuing Josh DeBerry in the transfer portal.
DeBerry, who has spent the last four years at the ACC school, announced he had been offered by Arkansas via Twitter on Tuesday. Other schools after his services include Texas A&M, Wisconsin and Coastal Carolina.
The 5-foot-11, 177-pound defensive back will likely continue to add suitors in the coming weeks because his resume includes multiple All-ACC honors.
If they get their way, though, the Razorbacks will have essentially gotten DeBerry as a “player to be named later” for Khari Johnson — similar to their “trade” with LSU last offseason that sent Greg Brooks Jr. and Joe Foucha to Baton Rouge in exchange for Dwight McGlothern and Landon Jackson.
Josh DeBerry at Boston College
A two-way standout in high school, Josh DeBerry helped De La Salle High School in Warren, Mich., win back-to-back Division 2 state championships. As a senior, he earned all-state honors after making 44 tackles and five interceptions on defense and racking up more than 1,000 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns on offense.
It was on the defensive side of the ball that DeBerry attracted attention from colleges, but he was just a consensus mid-tier three-star recruit, with the 247Sports Composite ranking him just outside the top 1,000 overall prospects in the Class of 2019.
A handful of Power Five programs, as well as several MAC and other Group of Five schools, recruited him and he ultimately chose Boston College over Wake Forest. Kentucky was his lone SEC offer, with Iowa, Iowa State and Northwestern also extending one.
The Eagles proved to be a good choice for DeBerry, as he quickly worked his way into the rotation as a true freshman and then became a starter for the next three years. In four seasons at Boston College, he started 31 games and played more than 2,000 defensive snaps — spending time at cornerback and nickel back.
According to Pro Football Focus, DeBerry steadily got better over his first three seasons. He posted a 67.7 grade on 131 snaps as a freshman, a 77.1 grade on 606 snaps as a sophomore and an 82.2 grade on 548 snaps as a junior. That year, in 2021, he was named a second-team All-ACC defensive back.
His grade dropped to 60.3 on a career-high 719 snaps this past season, but he still earned honorable mention All-ACC honors, just as he did as a sophomore.
For his career, DeBerry has 158 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 interceptions, 15 pass breakups, 7 quarterback hurries, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. He is able to play one more year of college football thanks to the eligibility relief granted by the NCAA in response to the pandemic.
What it Would Mean for Arkansas Football
No position needed more of an overhaul for Arkansas football than the secondary after what unfolded last season. Injuries exacerbated things, but the Razorback struggled to defend the pass all year.
In fact, Arkansas ranked dead last nationally in pass defense in 2022, allowing a school-record 294.7 yards through the air per game.
On top of Latavious Brini exhausting his eligibility, 10 defensive backs entered the transfer portal — including significant contributors Simeon Blair, Jalen Catalon, Khari Johnson and Myles Slusher.
On top of a coaching overhaul with assistants on defense, Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman first addressed the issue of replenishing the room through traditional recruiting by signing six defensive backs, highlighted by four-star prospects Jaylon Braxton and TJ Metcalf, and then through the transfer portal.
The Razorbacks brought in a pair of starters from Baylor in cornerback Lorando Johnson and safety Alfahiym Walcott, who are already on campus, and have also landed former five-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary.
Even with those additions, Pittman has been open about his desire to bring in more help in the secondary with one — or more — of his eight available scholarships. Arkansas has also been after interior linemen on both sides of the ball and is interested in potentially adding a tight end, as well.
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