Spring superlatives: Arkansas

May, 12, 2010
5/12/10
11:37
AM ET
Today, we take a look at the Hogs’ strengths and weaknesses coming out of the spring.

Strongest position: Receiver/tight end

Key returnees: Junior Greg Childs (48 catches, 894 yards, seven touchdowns), junior Jarius Wright (41 catches, 681 yards, five touchdowns), senior D.J. Williams (32 catches, 411 yards, three touchdowns), junior Joe Adams (29 catches, 568 yards, seven touchdowns), sophomore Cobi Hamilton (19 catches, 347 yards, three touchdowns)

Key departures: London Crawford (14 catches, 184 yards)

The skinny: Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett will be the first to tell you that he has as good a group of playmakers to throw to as any quarterback in the country. Childs led all SEC receivers a year ago in league games in yards-per-catch (23), receiving yards (737) and touchdown catches (six). Adams and Wright are both terrific after the catch, while Williams is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the country. The Hogs have some packages where they’re going to get Williams and sophomore Chris Gragg, a former receiver, on the field together next season. Senior tight end Ben Cleveland is also back. And when it’s all said and done, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino thinks Hamilton might be the most explosive player of the group. Nobody else in the league can touch the Hogs when it comes to talent, production and depth at the receiver/tight end positions.

Weakest position: Linebacker

Key returnees: Junior Jerry Franklin (94 tackles, five for loss, three interceptions), junior Jerico Nelson (74 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks), senior Freddy Burton (54 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks)

Key departures: Wendel Davis (79 tackles, 8.5 for loss)

The skinny: The big issue is depth. The Hogs simply don’t have enough linebackers who’ve played in key situations. And if somebody like Franklin or Nelson goes down, they’re really going to be in trouble. Franklin is the leader of the group and has started since he was a freshman. The Hogs want to see him get stronger in the weight room this offseason. The key battle this spring was for the starting middle linebacker spot, and sophomore Terrell Williams heads into the fall with a slight lead over senior Jermaine Love. Williams has put on more than 30 pounds since coming to Arkansas and ended the spring at 240-plus. He looked a lot more instinctive this spring in the middle. Burton has started in 13 games the last two seasons, but is listed behind Franklin at the weak side position. He can play either outside spot.

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