Barry Odom’s Best LB among Former Walk-Ons Showing Out in Top 8 College Football Players from Arkansas

Call them Diamond (in the Rough) State rankings now.

Jackson Woodard, Isaiah Sategna, Simeon Blair, Arkansas football, Arkansas high school football
photo credit: Twitter/jackson_wood23 / Nick Wenger / Memphis Athletics

Prior to the start of the 2023 season, Best of Arkansas Sports took a deep dive into 20 native Arkansans currently playing for FBS programs who were set to break out or continue building on their legacy.

With the season about two-thirds completed, that list is revisited and features some of the aforementioned names, as well as some that you may have forgotten about or recently came onto the scene.

The first 12 players were revealed Friday. Now it’s time for the top eight…

8. Robert Scott | OT | Florida State | 6-5, 315 | R-Jr.

A nagging injury that occurred very early in the season opener against LSU sidelined Robert Scott for three games, but he returned for 27 snaps against Virginia Tech on Oct. 7. Though he has not started since the opener, Scott was more involved against Syracuse a week later with 49 snaps while helping pave the way for a near 200-yard rushing performance by the Noles. 

He also contributed last week against Duke, but for only nine plays as he continues to work back to full speed. Despite the setback, Scott has graded out on Pro Football Focus at a very good 72.8, a drastic increase from 59.7 last season. 

7. JB Brown | LB | Kansas | 6-2, 230 | Jr.

JB Brown, a Hughes native and Springdale Har-Ber alumnus, transferred from Bowling Green in the offseason and has been one of the top defenders for the Jayhawks. He is second on the team in total tackles with 34, including 21 solo with two sacks, two pass deflections and has also forced a fumble.

Brown logged nine tackles in each of the past two games against Texas and Oklahoma State. For his career, Brown has collected 108 total tackles, 68 of those solo with 3.5 sacks, deflected three passes and forced four fumbles.

6. Anthony Switzer | S | Utah State | 6-0, 210 | Jr.

Anthony Switzer’s 62 total stops are tied for second on the Aggies’ roster, but also 35th nationally. That total includes 32 solo tackles and a sack. The Augusta native and Marion alumnus has also recovered a fumble, batted down two passes and grabbed an interception. 

Switzer is in his first season playing with Utah State after redshirting the 2022 campaign due to injury. He spent three seasons from 2019-21 at Arkansas State and for his career has logged 153 total tackles, 90 solo with a sack, deflected six passes, forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes. 

5. Kyle Ferrie | K | Mississippi State | 6-1, 205 | Fr.

This time last year, Kyle Ferrie was kicking for Harding Academy in Class 4A, but he has already made a name for himself at the highest level of college football. Ferrie has connected on 8 of 11 field goals (73%) thus far, with a long of 49 yards, and ranks second in the SEC for field goals made between 40-49 yards with four.

Ferrie was knocked out of Mississippi State’s 41-28 win over Western Michigan when his plant leg was run into, but returned following the bye week for the Bulldogs’ narrow 7-3 victory over Arkansas. Yes, Ferrie missed a 29-yard field goal, but such a whiff is very rare in his case. He connected on his lone extra point attempt. 

4.  Isaiah Sategna | WR | Arkansas | 5-11, 180 | R-Fr.

While things may not have gone as some may have projected offensively, Isaiah Sategna has found success as a return specialist. He ranks in the SEC’s top five of essentially all return statistics, headlined by the longest punt return for a touchdown (88 yards), he is one of four players in the league to return a punt for a score and ranks second in yards per punt return (16.4), just to name a few. Sategna has also hauled in eight catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. 

3. Makilan Thomas | OT | Arkansas State | 6-3, 300 | R-Soph.

Dating back to the 2021 season finale, the Little Rock Central alumnus has started 20 consecutive games for the Red Wolves, including all seven this season. He has some experience at essentially every position up front, including this season at center for 11 snaps, but primarily lines up at left tackle, where he has played 435 snaps and has a solid grade of 68.9 from Pro Football Focus.

2. Simeon Blair | S | Memphis | 5-10, 210 | S-Sr.

The former Pine Bluff Zebra is living up to his preseason first-team All-AAC selection from Phil Steele as the Tigers’ leading tackler among non-linebackers in his final college season. It’s his first with Memphis following a five-year stint at Arkansas. Blair’s career at Arkansas was up and down, but he discussed just prior to the season how Memphis’ defense was “much more multiple” compared to what he played in with the Razorbacks, and he felt it would help him live up to the expectations in his final college season.

Blair has logged 35 total stops, including 1.5 for loss, batted down three passes, as well as forced a fumble and recovered two. He nabbed his first interception of the season in last Saturday’s win over UAB and returned it 41 yards.

The two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection and former walk-on played in 46 games with the Razorbacks, including 22 starts, finishing his career in Fayetteville with 135 tackles, including three for loss and a sack, with 11 pass deflections.

1. Jackson Woodard | LB | UNLV |  6-3, 230 | JR

Another former walk-on for the Razorbacks, Jackson Woodard followed Arkansas defensive coordinator-turned-UNLV head coach Barry Odom to Sin City and has become an immediate star for the Rebels. He leads UNLV, which is currently 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play, with 59 total tackles, including 23 solo, with two pass deflections and he has also snagged an interception.

His best game in a UNLV uniform thus far came in last week’s win against Colorado State when he finished with 14 total tackles. Woodard also had an additional double-digit tackle performance in the season opener against Bryant that included 11 solo stops.

Woodard’s success comes as no surprise to Arkansas fans. Originally a preferred walk-on from Little Rock Christian, Woodard earned the trust of the coaching staff and logged 11 games as a sophomore in 2021 after seeing limited time in only four as a freshman. He was put on scholarship April of 2022 and played in all 13 games last season, totaling seven tackles.


If you missed Part 1 of our countdown, check it out here:


More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS…

Facebook Comments