FAYETTEVILLE — Only two Arkansas football players were included in Todd McShay’s initial prospect rankings for the 2023 NFL Draft.
The ESPN analyst didn’t have any Razorbacks in the top 50 overall, but he had Jalen Catalon as the fourth-best available safety. The other player McShay ranked was more of a surprise, though, as he had Georgia transfer Latavious Brini as the No. 13 safety.
Brini was the Bulldogs’ starting nickel until the postseason and opted to use his extra year of eligibility from the pandemic by entering the portal. He landed at Arkansas, where he’s still competing for a starting job at safety.
Although he’s still with the second-team defense, Brini appears to be making a move. He was the third safety on the field alongside Catalon and Simeon Blair on Tuesday when the Razorbacks’ first unit went to a three-man front, dime package with six defensive backs.
The 6’2″ 211-pound Florida native also made an interception during Wednesday’s practice viewing period for the media, jumping in front of a Malik Hornsby pass intended for Isaiah Sategna in the middle of the field. It was a nice play that showcased his potential now that he’s more comfortable in the defense after an adjustment period during the spring.
In fact, Latavious Brini was a major reason Best of Arkansas Sports identified Blair, the former walk-on, as one of the three players who most needed to watch their back during fall camp. Even though Blair started seven games last season, it seemed as though Brini was primed to push him for the starting job alongside Catalon.
The interception was just one play, but that appears to be happening based on comments by coaches, and draft experts like McShay also have high expectations for him.
Here are a few other observations from Day 11 of fall camp…
- After going full pads in Tuesday’s practice, the Razorbacks backed off a little bit Wednesday by practicing in “spiders,” which are light padding underneath jerseys, plus shorts and helmets.
- Because of bad weather in Northwest Arkansas, the Razorbacks moved practice inside Walker Pavilion.
- If an offensive lineman gets credit for a “pancake” when he puts a defensive player on his back, we’ll call the opposite — when a defensive player puts an offensive lineman on his back — a “waffle.” In his third day back from a concussion, defensive tackle Cam Ball notched a “waffle” against second-string center Josh Street. The redshirt freshman almost immediately knocked the walk-on backwards on one snap during the “fastball starts” team period.
- Warren Thompson has earned quite a bit of praise from Sam Pittman for taking his game to another level this camp, but he let a pass from KJ Jefferson go between his hands while working with the first-team offense during the “fastball starts” period. On the very next play, though, he caught a pass from Jefferson. During individual drills with cones, Thompson dropped another pass.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, freshman Isaiah Sategna has been consistently impressive with how well he catches passes away from his body. Those steady hands, coupled with his elite speed, could get him on the field sooner rather than later.
- Ketron Jackson Jr. doesn’t get talked about as much as several of the other receivers, but he got behind the defense on a post route for a touchdown. The closest defender was Myles Slusher.
- There weren’t too many depth chart surprises during the “fastball starts” period, but Bryce Stephens got work with the first unit ahead of Sategna, which contradicts the most recent update to our depth chart. There are still a lot of moving parts at wide receiver, so it will constantly change.
- For the second straight day, LaDarrius Bishop was the second starting cornerback alongside Hudson Clark, while Malik Chavis worked with the second unit. For the third consecutive day, Dwight McGlothern was with the third-team defense.
Click here to read our Day 10 observations from practice.
Check out some clips from Day 11 of fall camp:
Arkansas Football Injury Report
Here are a few injury notes on the Razorbacks based on what was observed during media viewing periods and things head coach Sam Pittman — and others — have said in interviews. Best of Arkansas Sports will update this section throughout camp…
- Freshman Andrew Chamblee has been running with the second unit at left tackle because Devon Manuel has been out of practice with an undisclosed injury.
- Defensive tackles Cam Ball and Taylor Lewis missed some time with concussions, but both returned Monday.
- Defensive back Jacorrei Turner started fall camp in a green non-contact jersey because of a shoulder injury, but he ditched the green jersey and is full-go this week.
- The only player still in green is offensive lineman Marcus Henderson. Pittman revealed after the first practice that he’s dealing with a pectoral injury. It’s “nothing serious,” but he’s being held out of contact drills for a week or so.
- Although he’s “ahead of schedule,” according to Pittman, running back Dominique Johnson is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and will miss at least the first week or so of fall camp.
- Quarterback Kade Renfro is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered during Arkansas’ bowl practices last December. He is not expected to be back in action until the first or second game of the season, so he was left off the 110-man camp roster. He’ll be spending his time in the training room going through rehab.
- In a bit of a surprise, one player who is on the 110-man roster is defensive tackle Taurean Carter, who is currently out with a knee injury that required surgery this summer. Pittman hasn’t said what the exact injury is, but did tell reporters that the staff thought it was important for him to go through meetings and attend practice during camp.
Another ESPN List Higher on Hogs
In addition to McShay’s NFL Draft prospect rankings, the World Wide Leader also unveiled its annual list of the top 100 players in college football.
This list featured three Razorbacks, with quarterback KJ Jefferson leading the way at No. 32. He’s the eighth quarterback on the list and behind only Alabama’s Bryce Young (No. 2) and Mississippi State’s Will Rogers (No. 27) in the SEC.
Other Arkansas football players who made the cut include linebacker Bumper Pool at No. 39 and safety Jalen Catalon at No. 66. Pool is the fourth linebacker on the list, while Catalon is the fifth safety.
The Razorbacks had just two players on last year’s preseason top-100 list and they were each lower than where Catalon is this year. Wide receiver Treylon Burks was No. 68 and Grant Morgan was No. 88.
Hear from special teams coordinator Scott Fountain, punter Reid Bauer and kicker Cam Little following Wednesday’s practice:
More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS…