Super Sophomores Thinking Big

Arkansas has several super sophomore wideouts among a deep receiving corp that plans on having a big season as a group.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas receivers Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Joe Adams spent the 2008 season trying to get acclimated to Bobby Petrino's offense.

Each showed promise. Each had setbacks. But by the time the experience was over, all three receivers were oozing with optimism as they began preparing for their sophomore years.

Now that it's almost here, the trio is thinking big. Really big.

"We all want a huge year," Wright said. "We all plan on being known this year. Not only by Arkansas, but by the nation."

The Arkansas passing game believes it is capable of turning in a prolific season. If so, there's no doubt sophomores Wright, Adams and Childs will have a big say in the success.

Last year, they were highly touted freshmen receivers who symbolized the radical change in philosophy from Arkansas' previous coaching staff to Petrino. Now, they feel much more like Southeastern Conference threats, capable of giving defensive coordinators headaches on a weekly basis.

"Last year we new we were freshmen," Childs said. "We knew we were just trying to learn the offense. But when we went into the offseason, we all started talking about how we're going to be a much-better players than we were last year."

It starts with Childs, who has been the most improved of the bunch after struggling to understand the offense last season.

The former Warren High standout has become the team's best "big" target this month, using his 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame to grab hold of passes over smaller defensive backs.

"Last year as a true freshman he came out and looked forward to someone telling him what to do on every play," Petrino said. "Now he's really studying and he's big, strong and physical."

Wright and Adams have been inconsistent, but aren't shabby.

Wright's strength is his ability to get behind defensive backs, establishing himself as Arkansas' best deep-play threat. Adams has the ability to make plays, catching screens or passes over the middle and turning them into big gains.

Petrino was asked about his receivers after Saturday's scrimmage and mentioned all three by name. He also said one thing was obvious: "We saw guys that could make plays."

Childs said all three understand there is still plenty of room for improvement, but each knows his strengths and weaknesses.

"We've all got different things we do well," Childs said. "When you put it all together, we have a great receiving corps."

They won't be the only options quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson will turn to this season. Arkansas has a plethora of targets, including tight end D.J. Williams and Ben Cleveland, running backs like Michael Smith and Dennis Johnson, and receivers like London Crawford and Cobi Hamilton.

But it won't keep the sophomores from expecting big things.

"We're really looking forward to this season," Wright said. "We feel like we're all going to come out and play great. ... We feel very comfortable now. We feel like we're going to make plays."

Inside the ... Wide Receivers

Best of the Bunch: Greg Childs. The sophomore had up-and-down moments in 2008, but has been much improved. The 6-foot-3 target is gearing up for a breakout season.

Watch Out For: Cobi Hamilton. The freshman has been a nice addition so far, showing off his speed and athleticism. At 6-3, he'll get plenty of chances to make plays this fall.

Biggest Strength: Arkansas may have more depth and talent at receiver than at any other point in school history. Even with Lucas Miller injured, the group has five or six options.

Biggest Question: Will the depth produce? Arkansas had options last season, but the team's top two receivers were a tight end (D.J. Williams) and running back (Michael Smith).

Projected Starters: London Crawford, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright

Key Contributors: Greg Childs, Cobi Hamilton, Carlton Salters

That Figures: 201 — Receiving yards for Lucas Miller in a loss to Mississippi State. It was 3 yards shy of the school's single-game record, which was set by Mike Reppond in 1971.

The Lingo: "There's more to winning than getting all the balls, getting all the routes. You've got to do the little things. You've got blocking. You've got your assignments. You've got to do the little things that come into play in order for you to win." — sophomore receiver Greg Childs

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