Nearly every young person in Arkansas who falls in love with the game of football dreams of growing up and donning the famous white Razorback on a red helmet. However, the reality is there are only so many spots available.
That also provides opportunities for homegrown kids to succeed elsewhere and show out for their state, as is the case for many of the 15 college football Arkansans mentioned below.
Best of Arkansas Sports has compiled a list of Natural State natives we expect to take on big-time roles for the 2023 season in the FBS ranks. We’ll look at the standouts who have already made an impact, as well as some who are just getting started.
We’ve already revealed No. 15-No. 7 in Part 1 here, so now it’s time for the top six, plus five who just missed the cut.
6. Isaiah Sategna | WR | Arkansas | 5-11, 180 | R-FR
Potential is one reason Isaiah Sategna is listed as high as he is on this list. Some will want him to be bumped up even a couple more spots because all signs are pointing to him having a breakout season for the Hogs under offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
It took a little while for him to get on board with Arkansas, first committing to Texas A&M, then Oregon three weeks after rescinding his pledge to the Aggies, before finally flipping to the Razorbacks in November of 2021. Sategna owns world class speed and set multiple state records at Fayetteville High, where was named Gatorade Player of the Year his senior season. He was the state’s top prospect in the 2022 class and ranked 168th overall on ESPN.
5. Stacey Wilkins | OT | Louisiana-Monroe | 6-7, 320 | R-JR
Stacey Wilkins was a four-star prospect and the 15th-best offensive tackle in the 2019 class when he decided to play his college football at Oklahoma over offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and, of course, the home state Razorbacks. He played in four games his freshman season with the Sooners, which preserved his redshirt, and then sat out during the 2020 COVID year before opting to transfer to Louisiana-Monroe less than a month before the 2021 season kicked off.
Wilkins appeared in two games with the Warhawks in 2021 season and all but one game in 2022. However, last season was marred by legal trouble. He was suspended by Warhawks head coach Terry Bowden for a contest against Louisiana-Lafayette, but returned for the following game against Arkansas State and appeared in seven of the remaining eight games, according to Pro Football Focus. Heading into his redshirt junior season, Wilkins is expected to start at left tackle for the Warhawks.
4. Makilan Thomas | OT | Arkansas State | 6-3, 315 | R-SO
Makilan Thomas appeared in three games during his freshman season. He earned a starting job in 2022, alternating between left and right tackle, and is now slated to be the Red Wolves’ starting right tackle.
As a senior at Little Rock Central, Thomas was tabbed all-state and helped the Tigers upset Fayetteville in the first round of the 7A playoffs, the program’s last playoff appearance to this point. He was a three-star prospect on 247Sports and listed as the 16th-best overall prospect in Arkansas for the 2020 class.
3. Samy Johnson | CB | Arkansas State | 5-10, 195 | R-SR
Arkansas State has not had a winning season since 2019, when they finished 8-5 and won the Camellia Bowl. Johnson contributed for the Red Wolves that season on special teams, as well as a backup role in the secondary, after moving over to the defensive side from running back.
Since then, Johnson has started 21 games for the Red Wolves and hopes to help them get back to their winning ways in Year 4 under Butch Jones. So far in his career, Johnson has logged 82 tackles, deflected 16 passes, forced two fumbles and recovered another, along with intercepting six passes, which leads all returning Red Wolves.
A three-time all-state selection for LR Catholic from 2016-18, Johnson eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing during each season playing varsity and was a two-time Landers Award nominee. Johnson was rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports and tabbed the 117th-best running back in the 2019 class.
2. Simeon Blair | S | Memphis | 5-10, 210 | R-SR
Opinions will vary when Simeon Blair’s name is brought up, particularly amongst Razorback fans, but it would be hard to question his competitive spirit. Blair took the long road to playing for the home state Hogs, beginning his career as a walk-on in 2018. He did not appear in any games as a freshman, but played in eleven games in 2019, mostly on special teams.
His hard work paid off prior to the start of the 2020 season, as new head coach Sam Pittman gave Blair the scholarship that he had earned. He started two games at safety that year, and then seven in 2021 when the Hogs won nine games and the Outback Bowl over Penn State. In all, Blair played in 46 games with 22 starts, including every game in 2022, while playing for Arkansas. He collected 135 tackles, three for loss, a sack, deflected 11 passes, and was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll twice, as well as team captain last season when Jalen Catalon went down with a season-ending injury.
Blair entered the transfer portal in December and joined the Memphis Tigers to use his fifth and final season of eligibility. He has made a strong impression already, earning a starting role in the secondary and was even named preseason first-team All-AAC by Phil Steele. The Pine Bluff native starred for the Zebras and was a 2016 all-state selection.
1. Robert Scott | OT | Florida State | 6-5, 315 | R-JR
Since arriving in Tallahassee in 2020, Robert Scott has started 29 games for the Seminoles, competing at both left and right tackle. During his collegiate career, Scott has received multiple academic honors from being named to the All-ACC Academic Team, ACC Honor Roll and Seminole Scholar twice.
During his freshman season, Scott was selected to the 247Sports True Freshman All-American Team and then was named second-team All-ACC in 2022 while helping lead one of college football’s most balanced offenses that averaged 270.2 yards passing and 214.1 yards rushing per game, as well as put up 36 points per game, which ranked 16th in the country.
Coming out of Conway, Scott was a three-star prospect and ranked by 247Sports as the 39th-best offensive tackle. He picked Florida State over several other offers including Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, TCU and Tennessee.
Five Other Arkansas Football Natives to Note
Zach Williams | DE | Arkansas | 6-4, 250 | SR
Williams has played in 44 games during his career with the Razorbacks and his production has really picked up over the past two seasons. He is behind Missouri transfer Trajan Jeffcoat on the depth chart, but coming in as a reserve could be what fits him best. Williams has appeared in all 13 games the past two seasons with six starts and logged 57 tackles, including 12 for loss and seven sacks in that span.
Ja’Quez Cross | RB | Arkansas State | 5-10, 190 | R-SO
Following an outstanding prep career at Fordyce, where he helped the Redbugs win back-to-back state championships, Ja’Quez Cross spent his freshman season at Purdue and appeared in three games. When things didn’t work out, he came back to his home state and landed in Jonesboro, playing in eight games during the 2022 season. Currently second on the depth chart, Cross’ production likely picks up immensely in 2023 as Butch Jones has proven to utilize multiple backs.
Tim Dawn | OL | Baylor | 6-2, 310 | R-FR
Tim Dawn led one of the top offensive lines in Class 5A during his time at Camden Fairview and he has already earned a spot on the Bears’ two-deep as a redshirt freshman. He appeared in one game as a true freshman – the opening contest against the University of Albany.
Chas Nimrod | WR | Tennessee | 6’3, 200 | R-FR
The Bentonville product did not record any statistics in the two games he played as a true freshman, but Chas Nimrod was named to the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll and is listed on the two-deep for the 12th-ranked Vols’ season opener against Virginia.
Josh Street | OL | Arkansas | 6-6, 315 | R-SO
Josh Street had some Power 5 offers coming out of Bentonville in 2021, but opted to walk-on at nearby Arkansas. He only contributed on special teams as a freshman, but played in all 13 games, and earned a scholarship following an impressive fall camp. Street is currently the backup left guard behind Brady Latham for the Hogs.
More coverage of Arkansas high school football from BoAS…