Jason Ivester

Spring Countdown: Wide receivers

With the Razorbacks closing in on spring football, HawgsDaily is breaking down who we believe Arkansas' starters are at all 22 positions. We'll reveal two each day through March 28, when the Razorbacks begin practice.

Depending on formation, Arkansas could have anywhere between one and three receivers on the field at one time. For the purpose of this exercise, we'll talk about the projected top three receivers.

Wide receiverBrandon Martin

R-Soph. | 6-4 | 215 | Monroe (La.) Wossman/Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep/Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.

2016 stats (at MGCCC): 23 receptions, 327 yards, four touchdowns

Why he'll start in 2017: Martin comes to Arkansas as the No. 2 junior-college wide receiver and No. 8 overall JUCO player in the country for the 2017 class. His size and speed make him a good fit for the SEC, as evidenced by him originally signing with LSU out of high school. The biggest reason he'll likely be in the starting lineup in 2017, though, is the fact that the Razorbacks are losing a huge chunk of production at wide receiver with the graduation of Drew Morgan, Keon Hatcher, Dominique Reed and Cody Hollister.

Why this spring is important: While he may be a good fit for the conference, it's worth noting that the SEC is a lot more difficult than junior college. Being an early enrollee will allow Martin to participate in spring practice and not only get a jump start on learning the playbook, which is most likely more complicated than the one at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., but also begin adjusting to the speed of the game. He'll be able to develop timing and chemistry with starting quarterback Austin Allen, as well. If you remember, Dominique Reed was a junior-college wide receiver signee in 2015 and he didn't arrive on campus until late in the summer. It took him a while to get a grasp on the playbook, but once he did, he was very effective.

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Wide receiverJordan Jones

R-Fr. | 6-1 | 184 | Smackover (Ark.)

2016 stats: N/A (redshirted)

Why he'll start in 2017: Even though he was redshirting, Jones was typically the first name brought up by head coach Bret Bielema, offensive coordinator Dan Enos and wide receivers coach Michael Smith when they were asked about developmental players who looked good in practice. His name is usually followed by adjectives like "fast" and "explosive." The way they talk about him, you'd think he's Usain Bolt in football pads. But they have reason to talk like that - Jones was clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a camp in 2015, the summer before his senior year at Smackover. Ole Miss and Alabama pursued him because of that speed, but he was Arkansas' first commitment in 2016 and he held true. After redshirting for a season, he'll have a chance to put that speed on display because of all the production lost at the receiver spot thanks to the graduation of Keon Hatcher, Drew Morgan, Dominique Reed and Cody Hollister.

Why this spring is important: With those four players gone, Jones needs to use this spring to establish himself as one of quarterback Austin Allen's favorite targets. While junior-college transfer Brandon Martin is a big target who can go up and high-point balls, Jones is a burner who could become a vertical threat. Deep passes require timing, though, so he and Allen need to get that down in the spring. In 2015, it took Brandon Allen and Dominique Reed a few games to get the timing just right on deep passes because Reed didn't arrive on campus until late in the summer, but once they did, it was a thing of beauty. Considering Austin throws a better deep ball than his brother, according to Bielema, and Jones is faster than Reed, Allen-to-Jones could be a fun connection to watch.

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Wide receiver (slot)Jared Cornelius

Sr. | 5-11 | 212 | Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian

2016 stats: 11 games (4 starts), 32 receptions, 515 yards, 4 touchdowns, 13 carries, 53 yards, 1 touchdown, 12 punt returns, 85 yards

Why he'll start in 2017: Early in the 2016 season, you could have made an argument that Cornelius was the Razorbacks' top receiver. He had three consecutive 100-yard receiving games against Texas A&M, Alcorn State and Alabama. It was just the third time that has happened in UA history. When Pro Football Focus released its postseason All-SEC teams, Cornelius was a first-team selection as the slot receiver. With only one dropped pass in three years, he is also an extremely reliable target. Plus, he is the only returning receiver with significant experience, so he'll be the leader of the group.

Why this spring is important: As the leader of the receiving corps, Cornelius will need to use this spring to help bring along the younger players and newcomers, such as Jordan Jones and Brandon Martin. While quarterback Austin Allen will still be working on his timing and chemistry with those guys, he'll always have Cornelius as sort of a security blanket.

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Here are links to our previous breakdowns, in case you missed any of them:

Quarterback/running back


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