Arkansas will lose at least three linebackers following the season on a team that is ranked 73rd in total defense.
Among the Razorbacks' three senior linebackers are Jarrett Lake, who has played in and started nine games this year, and Austin Jones, who started in five of the seven games in which he has played.
Their departures will likely lead to opportunities for younger players getting a chance to play the position for the Razorbacks. Which is why Douglasville (Ga.) South Paulding safety Khalia Hackett, who has committed to Arkansas as a linebacker, believes he can step onto the gridiron on Saturdays next year.
"I want to get playing time," Hackett said. "I don't expect to start next year, but I plan on coming in and working just as hard as the starters. I plan on coming in and giving it just as much as the sophomores, juniors and seniors that have been there. I hope they just build around me, help me around and give me some tips so I can play at the speed of the game and contribute alongside them.
"I feel like I can do great things at Arkansas, he added. "I think that's a place I can play and make things happen. I'm just hopeful to make them better in the future."
One of the reasons Hackett is confident in contributing at Arkansas is linebackers coach Randy Shannon. Shannon spent 17 years, including three national championship seasons, at the University of Miami (Fla.) as player, graduate assistant, positional coach, defensive coordinator and head coach.
"Coach Shannon coached a lot of great ones," Hackett said. "Like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Obviously, you know where they have been. So I think that I will be learning from one of the greatest coaches out there when I start working with Coach Shannon.
"I have a really good relationship with Coach Shannon. I call him whenever I want, him and Coach (Taver) Johnson, both. We talk just about every week."
As for his senior season at South Paulding, the Spartans finished the regular season 9-1 and will host Sequoyah for the first round of the playoffs on Friday.
"I thought it was a really good (regular) season," Hackett said. "We made history by getting the best record in school history and we are hosting the first home playoff in school history.
"It's been great for us to receive a lot of respect from other counties and our community loving us more. It's been great and exciting. We're loving it. We are getting better each and every day and we plan to go deep into the playoffs."
Hackett hopes to help immediately
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