By Otis Kirk
Arkansas’ offensive line will return two starters in 2019 and Chad Morris is looking for improvement from that unit.
Junior Ty Clary returns at center and senior Colton Jackson manned the left tackle spot in 2018. Gone is tackle Brian Wallace and both guards, Hjalte Froholdt and Johnny Gibson. Morris is hoping for an improved unit despite losing a trio of starters.
“We’ve got guys already targeted in this ’19 class,” Morris said. “We’re continuing to target more guys. Would love to get a couple of junior college older guys in. I think that’d give us an opportunity to have some experience to be able to come in here and create some competition. The guys that have played and have played some high snap totals, they’ve got to have a great offseason.
“I’m extremely excited about Noah Gatlin. He played early and obviously we saved his fourth game for the last game and he played a lot. I’m excited about him. I think he has a chance to have an unbelievable career, but he’s got to get stronger. So you have to develop. It goes back to developing the guys that we have and we’ve got to go continue to recruit and recruit at a very high level.”
Gatlin signed with the Hogs in Morris’ first class out of Jonesboro High School. He played in four games in 2018 so he gets to redshirt. Gatlin played left tackle and finished out the Missouri game replacing Jackson midway through the game. Morris and Dustin Fry, the offensive line coach, used the Missouri game to get some reps for a few younger players on the team.
While Clary returns at center, Morris is still trying to develop competition there and all other positions. Morris was asked the importance of the center position?
“It’s vital,” Morris said. “You’ve got to have a guy there that can run the whole show. It’s like having a quarterback. Like in baseball. When you’re solid right down the middle you’re pretty good. We’ve got to be solid right down the middle, from RB to QB to C to LBs to Ss. When you’ve got the center on your team, you know, you want things right. That center position is the quarterback of that group.
“And so moving forward, obviously Ty played a lot this year. He played a lot of snaps. We’re expecting huge gains from him this off season and high expectations for him. But to get the absolute best at that position, we’ve got to have a competition there. We’re redshirting Silas (Robinson). Silas has gotten quite a few reps at center and will get more reps there. And you know we’ll need to do that.”
Morris has a goal of getting the numbers on the offensive line up to par and is placing a lot of emphasis on that position in the Class of 2019.
“We’ve got to create depth,” Morris said. “We don’t have the depth in our offensive line. I said that this year, I think we had one week this year when we had 10 scholarship offensive linemen, since my entire year since I’ve been here I think I had one week with 10 scholarship guys. Outside of that we haven’t had that. When you don’t have that you’ve got to do a lot of cross training. I thought we did that just about as well as we could.”
Here’s a look at what the Hogs are slated to return on the offensive line, who is committed and the ones they are known to still be recruiting.
Slated to Return
Austin Capps, Sr, 6-4, 311 (Played left guard behind Froholdt)
Shane Clenin, Soph, 6-6, 302 (Versatile enough to play any position on offensive line)
Ty Clary, Jr, 6-4, 287 (Started majority of games at center, but also has played guard)
Audry Horn, Soph, 6-2, 290 (A walk-on who was valuable help on scout team in 2018)
Kirby Adcock, Soph, 6-5, 280 (Will likely play guard in future)
Ryan Winkel, R-Frosh, 6-6, 286 (Redshirted should have bright future)
Noah Gatlin, R-Frosh, 6-7, 293 (Morris obviously high on this tackle)
Colton Jackson, Sr, 6-5, 301 (Most experienced offensive lineman on team)
Silas Robinson, R-Frosh, 6-4, 308 (Son of coach, part of Morris’ first class. Smart and talented)
Dalton Wagner, Soph, 6-9, 300 (Did good job when on field. Should be key player in future)
Committed to Sign in 2019
Beaux Limmer, HS, 6-5, 270, Tyler (Texas) Robert E. Lee
Brady Latham, HS, 6-5, 290, Jenks (Okla.)
Dylan Rathcke, HS, 6-5, 295, Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab
Committed to be Preferred Walk-on
Andrew Vest, HS, 6-6, 310, Searcy
Still Known to be Recruiting
Chibueze Nwanna, JC, 6-8, 320, Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna Community College
Darius Tisdale, JC, 6-5 296, Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna Community College
Trevor Roberson, HS, 6-11, 355, Wellington (Texas)
Myron Cunningham, JC, 6-6, 300, Iowa Central Community College
Recruiting to be Preferred Walk-on
Logan Kallesen, HS, 6-4, 295, Shiloh Christian