State of the Hogs: Veteran Receivers Showing Out

Cody Hollister and Drew Morgan are excited about Arkansas prospects. Depth and experience at wide receiver allow young quarterbacks to throw it around this spring. Both bubbled with optimism after Tuesday's practice.

Cody Hollister sparkled in Saturday's scrimmage with five catches. It's a reminder that another of those injured Arkansas wide receivers is back for another year, providing plenty of depth.

And speaking of reminders, Drew Morgan had one for quarterback Austin Allen during a practice this week. He wants the ball on third-and-6.

Morgan also delivered a prediction of sorts after practice Tuesday. He thinks the Hogs are going to be just fine.

Hollister and Morgan were among those brought to the interview room after practice Tuesday, a day marked by two position switches. Jamario Bell moved from defensive end to tight end. Jake Hall moved from defensive end to the offensive line.

Hollister missed most of the season with a broken foot, just like Keon Hatcher. Both are back for their senior campaign with the Razorbacks. Then there's senior Drew Morgan, trying to figure out how to convince four new quarterbacks that he's still going to be the guy in his senior season. There's also the ultra talented Dominique Reed, another senior wideout.

It's those experienced wide receivers -- along with redshirt freshman La'Michael Pettway and Deon Stewart -- that give the Hogs some fire power in the passing game that was clear on Saturday when Austin Allen sparkled at quarterback.

Hollister said it's all of that experience and talent that has allowed Dan Enos, the second-year offensive coordinator, to give the offense more complexities for this point in the spring. Last spring at this time, Enos was still teaching basic routes and concepts. Obviously, the passing game exploded in the second half of the season.

"We are a little more complex this spring," Hollister said. "I think you see the trust that Coach Enos feels in us. I think when you look at our top five, we are kind of pros at this."

Morgan underwent shoulder surgery in January. He's in a green jersey for the spring, but he's started to run plays with the offense in non contact drills.

"That began yesterday," Morgan said. "I'm doing a lot of stuff, but I won't scrimmage. The pass skeleton, the other stuff, I'm in."

Morgan said it's time for the quarterbacks to realize that he's ready to be their third down option like he was for Brandon Allen down the stretch last year.

"It was third and 6 yesterday and Austin looked at me and then went somewhere else with the ball," Morgan said. "I came back to the huddle and told him, 'Throw me the ball!' I wasn't joking. I was serious. Bring it to me on third and 6.

"I told them all that they need to bring it to me. I'm out here now, so throw it to me. I think they still see that I'm in that green jersey. But I'm back. I'm ready to catch it."

Hollister seemed to be the top option in the scrimmage. That's fine with him, but he knows some of what he's going to be asked to do will be blocking situations.

"I want them to know I'm going to rip someone's head off," Hollister said. "I can catch it, but I'm also going to be that big body in our running game."

Either way, Morgan said get ready to see the Hogs roll.

"We are going to be good this year," Morgan said. "Good. We finished the year hot and we are going to be hot starting next year. We are going to be on a roll. Get ready to see us ranked."

Morgan loves what he sees of the quarterbacks. It's more than just Allen, the clear leader of the pack. But he likes Rafe Peavey, Ty Storey and Ricky Town, too.

"I think they are all good," he said. "I've tried to catch balls from all four because they are all good and you never know who might end up needing to play. I just want all four to know they can trust me. I want to be their guy.

"I know I have to prove myself to them. I have to prove myself to everyone. I've seen the lists being tweeted, those All-SEC lists. I'm not on them. I am going to have to prove myself again. That's fine. Some might be saying, is he a fluke? I want to prove that I was not a fluke.

"Just to be clear, I'm fine with being a sleeper. I know I did some things last year, but don't live in the past. Last year is last year."

Morgan has some advice for the quarterbacks after watching them in last week's scrimmage: Don't think they are runners.

"Yeah, some of them took off a few times," Morgan said. "It's OK to scramble, but don't cross the line. Stop and throw it. The idea is to buy a little time and then find a receiver. Throw the ball. Let it rip. I liked that they bought a little time, but I want them to throw it."

Allen has been impressive.

"Great arm, great vision, great IQ," Morgan said of the junior quarterback. "He can rip it.

"Rafe can throw it, too. I just want him to let it rip. I see great things from Ty and Ricky, too. I like what I see."

Hollister loves what he sees.

"You see Austin, you see a relaxed player," he said. "He doesn't freak out about stuff. He's calm in the huddle. He is not stressing out because he has confidence in what he's doing and us.

"He's been consistent in our practices. He's got the same mindset day after day. He's let his athleticism show in how he moves in the pocket. He's got a great arm. He can chunk it 80."

Back to Enos, Hollister said it's the nuances that are starting to click for the wideouts.

"I think we have guys stepping up," he said. "I know we lost some guys, but we have more guys and a lot of them have played. I think what Coach Enos has done is superb, some really good concepts. I think we are getting to some of the details now."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories