For the fourth straight offseason, Arkansas football has the opportunity to welcome back several of its seniors for an extra year.
The so-called “super seniors” are the result of the NCAA granting all players active in 2020 a bonus year of eligibility in response to the pandemic. That applies to both traditional and fifth-year seniors this season because they would have been freshmen in and redshirt freshmen, respectively, that year.
Over the past few seasons, this unique rule tweak has given the Razorbacks an extra year of the likes of Grant Morgan, Myron Cunningham, Bumper Pool, Dalton Wagner and several others. It’s also allowed them to sign players using their super senior season to enter the transfer portal.
This year, a whopping 18 Arkansas football players have a chance to take advantage of this rule and play again in 2024. Now that this season is over, the question is how many of them will choose to do so — and head coach Sam Pittman believes several of them will.
“I think with how it’s gone, the team for the most part, the kids want to be here and they don’t want to leave on (a bad note),” Pittman said. “I think they’ve had some success and they want to go back and prove that we can have it again. So I think a high majority of those guys could come back.”
Of course, the desire for each player’s return has to be mutual. Unlike the first year of super seniors, any scholarship player coming back for the bonus year would count against Arkansas’ 85-man limit, so Pittman must weigh them against the possibility of adding someone else via the transfer portal or bringing in a high school or JUCO signee.
With that in mind, we’ve ranked 10 potential super seniors in terms of importance to Arkansas football in 2024.
Likely Off to the NFL
Before we get to our list, though, let’s go ahead and cross off two of them because it seems highly likely that both are heading to the NFL Draft.
Beaux Limmer is ranked as the eighth-best center available in the 2024 NFL Draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and has already accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl.
Dwight McGlothern is the highest-graded cornerback in the FBS (90.8), according to Pro Football Focus, and has an SEC-high seven interceptions over the last two seasons.
Both could return to school as super seniors, but we see them following in the footsteps of players like Ricky Stromberg last year and Montaric Brown the year before that.
Most Important Super Seniors for Arkansas Football
1. QB KJ Jefferson
At this point, it seems like a long shot that KJ Jefferson would return for a super senior season with Arkansas football. After all, he posted a selfie with “Last One” on his Instagram story the morning of the Missouri game and reports surfaced last week that he was expected to enter the transfer portal.
Jefferson quickly refuted those reports, saying he hasn’t made a decision yet, but Pittman’s comments the next day didn’t exactly sound like he believed the quarterback would be back.
“KJ’s given to the university good years and a lot of records and things of that nature,” Pittman said. “Whatever he wants to do, we’ll be supportive of it.”
Considering his struggles in the Razorbacks’ new offensive system, it seems much more likely that Jefferson would enter the transfer portal instead of declaring for the NFL Draft.
Even though there is a segment of the fan base who would be happy to see that happen, it would be tough to see your school’s all-time leading passer in another uniform. Plus, Jefferson showed he’s a very good quarterback in 2021 and 2022.
Perhaps Arkansas’ hire of Bobby Petrino as offensive coordinator would entice him to stay and try to replicate what Lamar Jackson did under his leadership at Louisville. If that doesn’t happen, the Razorbacks have Jacolby Criswell waiting in the wings, plus they’re expected to pursue a quarterback in the portal.
However, the possibility of Jefferson returning to the level of play we saw from him with Kendal Briles as the OC, coupled with what we know about Petrino, makes him a clear choice for No. 1 on this list.
2. WR Andrew Armstrong
There was some concern about how well Arkansas’ three transfer wide receivers would fare in the SEC considering they were all coming from lower levels of college football.
Despite coming from Texas A&M-Commerce, which was a Division II school when he signed and had been an FCS program for only one year when he left, Andrew Armstrong emerged as KJ Jefferson’s go-to guy this year.
He led the Razorbacks in all three major receiving categories, catching 56 passes for 764 yards and five touchdowns. His receptions and receiving yards each ranked in the top 10 in the SEC, with the 56 receptions tying for ninth on the UA’s single-season list.
Armstrong might have done enough to at least try his hand in the NFL, but the numbers he could put up in Bobby Petrino’s system might further improve his stock.
Even before that hire, Pittman told reporters following the FIU game that he’d like to have him back in 2024.
“He’s a hard-working kid and I think if we can talk him into coming back, I think he’ll be even better next year for us,” Pittman said. “But I’m proud of what he’s done for us all year.”
3. OL Brady Latham
It’s not a secret that this season didn’t go as Brady Latham, or hardly anyone for that matter, expected. The offensive line as a whole struggled and the fifth-year senior got a bulk of the criticism because of how penalty prone he was.
According to Pro Football Focus, Latham was penalized eight times in 2023 — with half of those flags coming against BYU — in 754 total snaps. He had drawn only 12 flags in 2,510 snaps over the first four years of his career.
On top of that, we know he’s a better offensive lineman than what he showed this year. His PFF grade dipped to 65.8 this season after he posted a 69.8 grade as a redshirt sophomore and 70.7 grade as a redshirt junior. There’s a reason he garnered multiple preseason All-SEC accolades heading into 2023.
Offensive linemen with that kind of resume don’t exactly grow on trees and when one does hit the portal, the competition to land them is heavy. It’s probably best to assume this was a blip on the radar and he’ll revert back to being a solid, if not very good, lineman in a new system next season.
If nothing else, getting Latham back would be good from a leadership perspective, as he was elected a team captain this season.
4. DT Eric Gregory
His career numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but Eric Gregory is about as experienced of a defensive lineman as you’ll find in the SEC.
Even though he has only 93 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks over his five seasons with the Razorbacks, Gregory has started 32 games and played 1,642 snaps.
That kind of experience is hard to find at his position. Throw in the fact he’s played both defensive end and defensive tackle, and in both 3- and 4-man fronts, and he’s a good, versatile piece to have on the defensive line.
Gregory has also steadily improved over the years, according to Pro Football Focus. He earned a career-high 74.3 grade as a fifth-year senior this season after posting a 49.5 as a redshirt freshman, 59.6 the following year and 63.4 last season.
If he continues that trajectory in 2024, he could be in store for a breakout campaign similar to what Jonathan Marshall experienced a few years ago.
5. DB Hudson Clark
A case could be made that no player on Arkansas’ defense the last few years has been criticized as heavily or as frequently as Hudson Clark. Much of that has been undeserved.
Sure, he’s been picked on in coverage a couple of times. However, so has pretty much every other defensive back who’s received significant playing time.
The fact is he’s a versatile defensive back capable of playing anywhere in the secondary, with safety and nickel probably being better spots for him than cornerback. He’s also proven to be a reliable open-field tackler.
Clark has actually been mentioned by name as someone Pittman would like to have back next year.
“I mess with them when I walk by them, ‘What number do you want to change to next year? Do you like your number?’” Pittman said. “Like Hudson Clark, I’m messing with him all the time like does he like Gatorade or water at practice. Just messing with him.”
6. DT Taurean Carter
7. DT Anthony Booker Jr.
8. DT Keivie Rose
To be honest, it’s difficult to differentiate between this group of defensive tackles, so we’ll group them together.
Each of these players got a significant amount of playing time this year, with Taurean Carter starting the most games of the group (4), Keivie Rose playing the most snaps (301) and Anthony Booker Jr. earning the best PFF grade (62.4).
You could really order them in any way you want and not be wrong, but we went with Carter first because he’s been here the longest and appeared to be on the verge of a breakout year in 2022 before suffering a knee injury in the spring showcase. Another year removed from that injury could lead to a big year in 2024, similar to what Landon Jackson experienced this season.
Booker and Rose were transfer additions this past offseason. Booker battled injuries most of the year, but looked good in his more limited action, while Rose also flashed his potential at times.
It would be nice if Arkansas didn’t have to rely so heavily on the portal at this position, so just getting one or two of these guys — in addition to Eric Gregory — would help. They could complement Cam Ball and Ian Geffrard, the latter of whom the coaches seem to be pretty high on even though he redshirted this year.
9. WR Isaac TeSlaa
10. WR Tyrone Broden
The decision of Andrew Armstrong at No. 2 on this list could influence our last two players, which we’ve once again grouped together because they play the same position.
If Armstrong returns, there might only be room for one of these guys to come back because the Razorbacks already have two wide receivers committed (Ashton Bethel-Roman and CJ Brown) and are still trying to get Courtney Crutchfield back on board. They did lose Sam Mbake and could see others hit the transfer portal, but otherwise, they’ll be full at the position.
If there’s room, Isaac TeSlaa and Tyrone Broden each have skills/traits that would make them intriguing to Bobby Petrino.
TeSlaa has incredible athleticism and great hands, but sometimes struggled to get open. Perhaps another year in the SEC would help with that, but he’d probably be aided by an OC who actually knows how to utilize his skill set.
The same could be said about Tyrone Broden, who stands 6-foot-7 and has really good speed. Petrino would probably know how to use that kind of receiver, too.
Other Potential Super Seniors
- DB Malik Chavis
- OL Ty’Kieast Crawford
- DT Marcus Miller
- TE Francis Sherman
- DE Jashaud Stewart
- DB Kee’yon Stewart
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