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Arkansas Receiving Corps Primed for Explosive Season

Arkansas Razorbacks versus Ole Miss

To create the perfect machine hours of finite understanding of every moving part are required. In the complicated machine that is Bobby Petrino's offense, one of the biggest cogs in the wheel is the wide receiver position.

With the Arkansas roster filled with gaping holes in the "meaningful experience department," the Razorbacks fully know any new offensive philosophy must deliver on expectations. The Arkansas receiving corps also knows they will play an instrumental role in making the new philosophy come to life on the gridiron.

In an interview on Little Rock's 103.7 The Buzz last Friday, Petrino, who returns to Arkansas as the offensive coordinator after spending 2023 as Texas A&M's OC, explained the whole offense and his anticipation to see his new wideouts in action.

Petrino Praises Arkansas Receiving Corps

Petrino has had high praise for his receiving corps.

"I'm excited about our receivers," Petrino said in the interview. "I think before it's over with, we're going to have a really good group."

The praise inside the program has been reciprocated as well. Quarterback Jacolby Criswell said in a media appearance last week that Petrino's offense "is probably one of the most explosive offenses I have ever been in."

Coming from Criswell, who saw plenty of good offense while playing understudy to Drake Maye and Sam Howell at North Carolina, this compliment carries some weight.

Revitalizing the Razorback Offense

Despite positive vibes surrounding the offense at this point in spring ball, the question remains: how can Arkansas reinvigorate its offense after regression to national lows in total yards, scoring and efficiency last season?

Petrino has been back in action in Fayetteville for a few months, tirelessly talking Xs and Os with savvy recruits on the trail and snarling intently at young quarterbacks in cardinal and white making incorrect reads during drills. By all accounts, the 63-year-old has found more zen than he had during his first infamous stint at Arkansas (2008-11) and has righted many wrongs.

As Petrino brings his highly-touted offensive system back to Arkansas, the Razorback faithful hope a new scheme maximizes the teams' talent and success in 2024. Yet, without quality play at the wide receiver positions, an offensive attack like Petrino's loses the perfect balance that keeps the system flourishing. The Razorbacks were unfortunate to have several position groups decimated via the transfer portal and graduation, but the pass-catchers for the Hogs remains largely unchanged.

Analyzing the Arkansas Receiving Corps

The Razorback wideouts return 89 percent of all receptions from last year and 95 percent of all scoring receptions. Arkansas is sitting pretty with eight leading pass catchers in yards and receptions last season back in the fold for 2024. While those percentages benefit Arkansas, it is important to remember that the Razorbacks finished No. 105 in the FBS for passing offense out of 130 teams in 2023.

The receiving corps has tangible in-game experience, but they are all still unfamiliar with getting consistent targets in a functional offensive system. Verticality and explosiveness will be paramount in just how efficient Arkansas can be.


Tight Ends

The entire Arkansas tight end group is brimming with talented pieces that could develop well in a system designed to get receivers the ball in space.

Luke Hasz

The brightest star snagging passes for Arkansas last season was Sophomore Luke Hasz. Hasz was well on his way to a historic season before a season-ending broken clavicle derailed it in a Week 5 loss to Texas A&M.

A proud son of Bixby, Okla., Hasz was rated a four-star prospect by all major recruiting services coming out of high school. As a freshman, Hasz accounted for 253 receiving yards on 16 catches, three of which were for scores.

The Razorbacks will continue to make good use of Hasz's ability now that his bill of health is clean. A versatile tight-end is a good weapon for any offense, but a true guru like Petrino already knows the skills the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Hasz brings to the table will be a fixture in Arkansas' scheme.

Var'keyes Gumms

Gumms caught 34 passes for 458 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first college action as a redshirt freshman at North Texas in 2022. Gumms dynamic season at North Texas showed his potential as a reliable target.

The 6-foot-3 redshirt junior was Second Team Freshman All-American by The Athletic and College Football Network. He left UNT with the school records for single-season receptions and yards by a tight end. Gumms was featured in last year's Razorback offense primarily as a pass-blocker, though he did add 3 catches for 26 yards.

Ty Washington

Washington has shown flashes of brilliance in several games during his three years at Arkansas. He helped the Hogs beat Kansas in the 2022 AutoZone Liberty Bowl with a 17-yard touchdown reception. Last season Washington nabbed 11 balls for 170 yards and two scores. Most of his production came in a Week 6 loss to Ole Miss where he posted 7 catches for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns. He went down for the year with a dislocated shoulder during a blowout loss to Auburn in November.

Andreas Paaske

The Razorbacks also beefed up the TE room with the addition of Paaske who joins the team after three seasons in Ypsilanti for the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Paaske has a big frame at 6-foot-2 and 262 pounds. Paaske is a native of Copenhagen, Denmark, and will look to use his size to seal premiere edge players out of the offensive backfield as a blocking specialist.



Physically, the wide receivers for the Razorbacks are on par with the conference elite—size and speed abound.

Isaiah Sategna

Perhaps the biggest question mark surrounds redshirt sophomore and hometown kid Sategna. The 5-foot-11 wideout has been a special teams ace during his first three seasons returning a punt for a score against BYU last September. Sategna is renowned for his sprinter speed but has yet to emerge as a true threat in the passing game.

Early tape from spring practices has shown Sategna running crisper routes and breaking away from defenders of lesser footspeed at a higher rate. His arrival as a speed demon with ball skills would spell nothing but success for a Razorback offense striving to be as explosive as they are crafty.

Sategna's development will coincide with the growth of Andrew Armstrong, Isaac Teslaa and Tyrone Broden. This trio of receivers transferred to Arkansas last year and remains a top option for Razorback quarterbacks. Each player stands 6-foot-4 or taller and possess elite ball-tracking skills that benefit young quarterbacks.

Andrew Armstrong

Armstrong was the most consistent receiver for Arkansas last year and his return should boost the Hogs with his steady play. The redshirt senior caught 56 passes last year for 764 yards and 5 touchdowns—all team highs. Displaying the supreme ability to make contested catches and his high football IQ to poke gaping holes in zone coverage, Armstrong can line up split out or in the slot and should be the team's leading wide receiver.

The 6-foot-4 Dallas-born Armstrong must refine his playing strength in perimeter blocking situations and accruing yards after catch to continue his development.

Razorbacks player being tackled.
© Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK
Isaac Teslaa

Teslaa's skills can also be utilized well next season for Arkansas. Teslaa owns a unique ability to snag passes with either hand and contort his body in an acrobatic fashion to bring balls into his long frame. By attacking the defense using his long stride to challenge the defender's leverage, Teslaa is a plus matchup in most scenarios. The senior accounted for 34 catches last year and 2 touchdowns from 351 yards while wowing fans with his subtle athleticism.

Improvement in route-running precision and creating separation from defenders would work wonders for Teslaa and the Hogs. Expect Teslaa to garner more targets this year and showcase his aggressive receiving skillset.

Tyrone Broden

Towering over most defenders at 6-foot-7, Broden proves a lethal matchup for Arkansas to use to their advantage. Broden caught 15 balls last year for 109 yards, but one in every five catches was a touchdown. Broden's freakish frame is to thank for those touchdowns. The redshirt senior has displayed a knack for securing passes others cannot.

Adjusting from his time in the Mid-American Conference as a transfer from Bowling Green, Broden shielded smaller defensive backs away at a high clip last year and used his long stride to cover ground faster than many would anticipate from a player of his stature. The Detroit native blocked well on the perimeter in the screen game and demonstrated good ball-carrier vision racking up YAC.

Broden's frame can also be attributed to a weakness Petrino hope to eradicate—using his long arms and torso to corral narrowly misthrown passes. The highlight of last season for Broden came during Arkansas's only conference win at The Swamp in hostile Florida. Broden blocked out the Gator's defense on an RPO play going in to the end zone and wrangled in the pass down three points in overtime to give Arkansas an emotional victory.

The Redshirts

Longtime Razorbacks and redshirt juniors Bryce Stephens and Jaedon Wilson look to make the most of their reps and slide into playing time. The staff also likes what they have seen from young receivers Davion Dozier and Texas A&M transfer Jordan Anthony. All four players could see time in the slot in 2024.

Stephens and Wilson have battled for every snap they have played at Arkansas, never cracking a top spot on the depth chart. Yet, their versatility has allowed them to show individual sparks of skill. Stephens helped the Hogs avoid an upset in 2022 with a game-changing 82-yard punt return for a touchdown against his new offensive coordinator's former team, Missouri State, and has caught 12 passes for 114 yards and a score in three seasons. Since 2021, Wilson has racked up 248 receiving yards with two scores on 18 receptions.


What can Petrino do with this passing game?

After a tumultuous 2023, Arkansas fans are running out of fingernails to anxiously gnaw on while pondering the culmination of Petrino's return to the fold and his proven schematic approach. Petrino improved the A&M offense during his previous stint in College Station, before the turbulent end to the Jimbo Fisher era, and is regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in college football today.

Razorback coach Bobby Petrino
© Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Those same fans suffered through an offensive attack last season that was as effective as trying to nail jello to a tree. The only way to alleviate the reoccurring nightmares of covered receivers flailing helplessly to find space only to see a quarterback swallowed whole by opposing defenses is for the receivers to display enough growth to cement themselves as bonafide playmakers.

Fans who remember Petrino's system during his time as the head coach at Arkansas can look back with vivid nostalgia of wide receivers with names like Joe Adams, Greg Childs, Cobi Hamilton and Jarius Wright running down the field without a defender near them hauling in perfectly placed balls on the way to paydirt.

Simply put, that nostalgia won't become a sweet sense of déjà vu unless the current pass-catchers can buy into the system and elevate themselves. Murmurs throughout spring football is that the offensive attack is working more efficiently and explosively than last year, and the receivers have looked the part. The public will finally see all these receiving options, new schemes, and new faces on display during the Red-White Game on April 13 at noon.


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