There’s no way around it – Arkansas had one of the worst pass defenses in college football during the 2022 season.
The Razorbacks’ defense ranked 118th in the nation, and the third-worst in the SEC behind Vanderbilt and Tennessee, giving up 273 yards per game through the air, and an average of 13 yards per pass completion.
With the transfer portal now open, head coach Sam Pittman is placing a heavy emphasis on fixing the secondary heading into the 2023 season. HawgBeat has confirmed eight total offers in the transfer portal since the portal opened on Dec. 5, five of which have been extended to cornerbacks and safeties.
The coaching staff will face an uphill battle in building the secondary, as the team has already lost six defensive backs to the transfer portal, and four that have run out of eligibility.
The 2023 high school class has some promise, though. The Hogs currently have five committed defensive backs from the high school ranks, with Jaylon Braxton headlining as the highest-rated defensive back recruit. Braxton saw a bump in the Rivals250 rankings to the No. 203 player in the nation Tuesday.
The other guys – Dallas Young, Christian Ford, TJ Metcalf, and RJ Johnson – are high three-star recruits who could play a part in building back depth by the time the season rolls around next year.
Injuries plagued the secondary throughout the season, as the Hogs lost senior safety Jalen Catalon in the first quarter of the first game of the season, and cornerback La’Darrius Bishop a week later against South Carolina.
Cornerback Malik Chavis and nickelbacks Jayden Johnson and Myles Slusher also missed time due to injury, with Slusher also being suspended for the LSU game.
The coaching staff had to bring two freshman wide receivers to the other side of the ball just to have depth throughout the season, with Quincey McAdoo starting three games at cornerback at the end of the year. McAdoo came on strong throughout his time at corner, but depth was a big concern all year.
There is also no guarantee that McAdoo will stay in the secondary, either. Arkansas’ wide receiver room is running thin after the departure of Jadon Haselwood to the NFL Draft, Matt Landers running out of eligibility and Ketron Jackson Jr. entering the transfer portal. McAdoo’s services may be needed on the offensive side of the ball next year.
The job gets even more difficult as defensive coordinator Barry Odom accepted the head coaching job at UNLV on Dec. 6. Finding a replacement quickly will be key to both keeping the 2023 class together, and adding to it with transfers.
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