The 2023 Arkansas football season is upon us.
In just over a week, the Razorbacks will host Western Carolina at War Memorial Stadium. It will be both teams’ season opener, with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.
The UA typically releases a depth chart on the Monday before each game, but Best of Arkansas Sports wanted to take a crack at predicting what it’ll look like a few days early.
Keep in mind, this is not only considering what we’ve seen at practice, but also knowledge of how the Razorbacks have typically handled their depth chart the last few years. That’s why it’s mostly just a two-deep, as that’s what they usually release.
Projected 2023 Arkansas Football Depth Chart
Arkansas Football Backfield
|QB||KJ Jefferson||Jacolby Criswell|
|RB||Rocket Sanders||AJ Green -OR-|
Rashod Dubinion -OR-
As was the case three months ago, Arkansas still has arguably the best 1-2 punch at quarterback and running back in the country. As long as they’re healthy, KJ Jefferson and Rocket Sanders will be the starters.
The backup spot at running back is still up in the air. It wouldn’t be surprising to see any of the three guys listed above to trot out second and, with all of them being returners, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see the UA list each of them with an “or” between their names.
After beating out Cade Fortin, Jacolby Criswell is now comfortably QB2 for Arkansas and would be called upon if anything happens to Jefferson.
Arkansas Football Pass Catchers
|TE||Luke Hasz||Ty Washington -OR-|
|WR||Andrew Armstrong||Tyrone Broden|
|WR||Isaac TeSlaa||Bryce Stephens|
|SLOT||Jaedon Wilson||Isaiah Sategna|
We have only one true freshman projected as a starter for the opener and that is Luke Hasz at tight end. He has impressed since stepping foot on campus in January. Who the backup is remains a bit of a mystery and could be situational. If the Razorbacks need a pass catcher, Ty Washington – or transfer Var’keyes Gumms – would be the pick. If they need a blocker, they’d probably go with Nathan Bax or transfer Francis Sherman. Washington and Bax’s status as returners is why we believe they’ll be listed on the depth chart instead of Gumms and/or Sherman.
At wide receiver, Andrew Armstrong and Isaac TeSlaa have emerged as relatively obvious starters on the outside. Another transfer, Tyrone Broden, will likely be a top backup behind one of them, with the fourth outside receiver harder to pin down. We penciled in Bryce Stephens, who had been primarily a slot receiver until getting some work on the outside in fall camp. He’s an older guy and probably viewed as one of the Razorbacks’ top six receivers, especially with Sam Mbake out for the season. True freshman Davion Dozier would be someone else to watch as the season progresses.
One of the toss-up positions is at slot receiver. Jaedon Wilson had been an outside receiver, but moved to the slot because Pittman said the staff felt like he may be one of the top three receivers. We’ve got him listed as the starter, but he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be healthy enough to play in the opener. That could open the door for Isaiah Sategna to start.
Arkansas Football Offensive Line
|LT||Devon Manuel -OR-||Andrew Chamblee|
|LG||Brady Latham||Josh Street|
|C||Beaux Limmer||Amaury Wiggins|
|RG||Joshua Braun||Ty’Kieast Crawford|
|RT||Patrick Kutas||E’Marion Harris|
Coming into camp, the starting offensive line felt like it was pretty solidified. However, an undisclosed injury to Devon Manuel gave Andrew Chamblee a chance at left tackle and now the Razorbacks have a decision to make. Because they likely won’t want to give anything away, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them listed with an “or” on the depth chart.
The other four spots remain relatively safe, with Patrick Kutas at right tackle, Joshua Braun at right guard, Beaux Limmer at center and Brady Latham at left guard. Latham has missed some practice this week, but is expected to return for the opener. If he doesn’t, there seem to be a couple of options to fill the hole – and it doesn’t sound like Josh Street is one of them, despite being listed as the backup.
While he’s probably the No. 2 center, Amaury Wiggins is also capable of playing guard and could slide over to left guard – or right guard, with Braun flipping sides. Sam Pittman said Ty’Kieast Crawford came on strong late in camp, as well, so he could go in at right guard with Braun flipping sides, as well.
Arkansas Football Defensive Line
|DE||Landon Jackson||Zach Williams -OR-|
|DT||Taurean Carter||Eric Gregory|
|DT||Cameron Ball||Keivie Rose -OR-|
Anthony Booker Jr.
|DE||Trajan Jeffcoat||John Morgan III -OR-|
The two spots we feel most confident about here are Landon Jackson and Trajan Jeffcoat as the starting defensive ends. Their backups could be any of the four other defensive ends listed above, but John Morgan III seems most likely to be one of them.
At defensive tackle, you could almost pick any two of the five defensive tackles listed above and it’d be a believable starting lineup. We penciled in Taurean Carter and Cameron Ball because they are returners, but Eric Gregory also fits that description.
Arkansas Football Linebackers
|LB||Chris Paul Jr.||Jordan Crook|
|LB||Jaheim Thomas||Antonio Grier|
Even though he missed some time in fall camp with a “slight MCL” injury, Chris Paul Jr. is safely in the starting lineup as one of the leaders of the defense.
Who starts alongside him is the biggest question. It wouldn’t be surprising if Jordan Crook gets the nod, but Jaheim Thomas made a big move in camp and we believe he’s in position to start.
During the spring, it looked like Antonio Grier was the frontrunner to start with Paul, but he’s missed quite a bit of time with a pulled quad. While Sam Pittman sounded optimistic that he’d return to practice next week and be available for the opener, Thomas and Crook seem to have moved ahead of him on the depth chart. One freshman to watch here is Brad Spence.
Arkansas Football Secondary
|NB||Lorando Johnson||Jaylen Lewis|
|CB||Dwight McGlothern||Jaylon Braxton|
|S||Alfahiym Walcott||Malik Chavis|
|S||Jayden Johnson||Hudson Clark|
|CB||Jaheim Singletary||Kee’yon Stewart|
Perhaps the most surprising part of our projected depth chart is at safety, where we have Jayden Johnson slotted ahead of Hudson Clark. The latter had been widely penciled in as a starter, but Johnson has come on strong lately and actually replaced him on the first unit in portions of practice open to the media. While we still think Clark gets a decent amount of reps, we now believe Johnson gets the start next to Alfahiym Walcott.
Everything else in the secondary has played out relatively as expected. Dwight McGlothern is sure to start and Jaheim Singletary, a former five-star recruit, has locked down the other starting spot at cornerback. That allowed Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson to slide inside to nickel, which is called the “Hog” in Arkansas’ defense.
Kee’yon Stewart is battling an undisclosed injury, which could open the door for LaDarrius Bishop to return to the two-deep.
Arkansas Football Special Teams
|K||Cam Little||Blake Ford|
|P||Max Fletcher||Devin Bale|
|KOR||Isaiah Sategna -OR-||Jaylon Braxton -OR-|
|PR||Bryce Stephens -OR-||Jaylon Braxton -OR-|
There’s very little debate about the starting kicker, punter or long snapper. For that matter, neither is there at holder. Cam Little has also locked down the kickoff duties.
The big question is who returns kicks and punts for the Razorbacks. The media isn’t present when they work those things in practice, so it’s impossible to know who exactly will win the job – and it is entirely likely that Arkansas doesn’t want to reveal their starter, hence the “or” listings above. That said, Isaiah Sategna had a 100-yard kickoff return in the Razorbacks’ second scrimmage of fall camp.
All 10 of the defensive players Arkansas football added via the transfer portal are projected to at least be in the two-deep depth chart above. For a more in-depth breakdown of those players and their roles, check this out:
Exclusive Access Offer
To immediately see a story titled “National Top 80 Razorback Commit Explains Why Hogs Are ‘Going to Have to Put Me on the Payroll'” before it publishes, sign up for Grow below. No waiting necessary.
More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS…