State of the Hogs: Covet Number Grows

How many Arkansas football players would play elsewhere in the SEC? The number has grown in year two of Bret Bielema's era with the Razorbacks.

The decision by Cameron Jefferson to leave UNLV and transfer to Arkansas with immediate eligibility gives a big-time boost to an offensive line in need of a left guard. Jefferson should be the starter the day he walks on campus after starting most of three years for the Rebels.

It was clear the Hogs coveted Jefferson. Covet is a nice word, meaning desire, crave or hunger for. I learned it first when a preacher mentioned it on Sunday morning and asked for an explanation from my father. It was a quick and powerful lesson.

"Don't hunger for something that is not yours, that hamburger on your brother's plate," he said. "He should be able to leave the dinner table and his food should be untouched."

When you eat with three brothers, all growing like weeds, you didn't leave the dinner table for fear that your plate would be picked clean while you were gone – if my mother had stepped away.

OK, where am I going with this? How many players would SEC teams covet from the Arkansas roster if there was no one guarding the locker room? Would any from this Arkansas roster be wanted by their competitors in the SEC West?

I told someone at this point last summer that there were few Razorbacks that would be coveted by others in the SEC as immediate contributors. Oh, yes, Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins would be scooped up quickly because of their potential. You can never have enough running backs.

Travis Swanson, Chris Smith and Trey Flowers would be able to step in at other SEC schools. They have both ability and experience.

But how many others would have made an impact somewhere else wasn't clear. I'm not talking about providing depth. I'm talking about stepping onto the field.

Every school in the SEC has depth issues and there are many who need a specific player – as Arkansas did at left guard to make it appealing for Jefferson to transfer – at a certain position. So there would be a rush to the Arkansas campus if suddenly there was no football.

But the list is much longer this year than at this point last year. Some haven't played much, but they are going to be players this year. They will be coveted sooner or later. That's one of the main reasons I think this Arkansas team is much better than the 2013 version that went 3-9 with some blowout losses.

If SEC teams could draft Arkansas players, I think they'd start with Flowers. He's the best on the roster. But there are many others that would be quick picks. Korliss Marshall might be next. Then, Dan Skipper, then Denver Kirkland, the two young offensive linemen headed for stardom.

I'd guess that many would also like to have a legitimate SEC three technique at defensive tackle in Darius Philon. Deatrich Wise and Brandon Lewis might also get a quick take. Also from defense, Carroll Washington will be coveted after he plays a few games. He's that good at boundary corner and can disrupt passing games. Linebackers Brooks Ellis and Martrell Spaight would go fast, too. No one is stacked at linebacker and both can play in the SEC. Spaight might be a terror this season.

There are more on offense, too. The next wave of Arkansas players selected by SEC teams might include tackle Brey Cook and even some wide receivers, perhaps Eric Hawkins (the team's fastest player), Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius. All three of those are young and will turn some heads before the season is over.

Multiple tight ends would be gobbled up, starting with Hunter Henry. Jeremy Sprinkle and A.J. Derby would be taken, too. Yes, Derby would be coveted now that he's playing somewhere that fits his frame, speed and hands. His football knowledge is perfect for the spot.

Alan Turner was the team's leading tackler last year. His 97 stops ranked seventh in the SEC. I think someone would want Turner on their team at strong safety. It might not be at Alabama or LSU, but there are teams in the SEC that need men like Turner, and he is a man in the open field when there is no one to provide help.

Sam Irwin-Hill would be taken. He's one of the best punters in the SEC. He has rare talent. He can do a lot of things with a football.

You may be surprised to know that some might take an Arkansas quarterback. Brandon Allen's experience would help at LSU, believe it or not. Allen might have some fun with an ultra talented team around him. And, there may be some that covet Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey later in the year.

There are several in the freshman class that would be taken quickly by SEC teams. No, they aren't ready to play and may not be this year. But the likes of Frank Ragnow, Brian Wallace and Sebastian Tretola will turn heads when they get off the bus. So will Bijhon Jackson and some of those young linebackers, safeties and wideouts.

Yes, Bret Bielema's roster is getting better. I probably left off a couple that might be coveted as I sit here wondering how many hamburgers disappeared from my plate when I wasn't looking. You don't get those back. Think about that as you head to a summer cookout. Watch out for big brother. He may be ready to wipe your plate clean.

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