It’s August 5, which means college football season is just around the corner. Practice started today – at just under 30 days before kickoff – for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and after a nine-game winning season last year, both fans and players have a lot of expectations for the upcoming season.
Head Coach Sam Pittman has proven himself as a leader, and according to 103.7 The Buzz’s David Bazzel, fans can expect great things in the coming season from both Pittman and the players.
“As a former player and a former team captain, I’ve been watching the [Razorback Football] program, very closely. For the first time in a while now, I see so much outside respect given to the program with Sam Pittman,” Bazzel said. “It’s looking so much more like an SEC team and Sam Pittman deserves so much respect for getting everything moving in the right direction.”
Bazzel pointed to recruiting as a key element in building a successful team, and asserted the current team is full of valuable players. This year’s team shows great promise with its seasoned players, as it is not preferable to play freshman, but waiting until the players are more seasoned.
“If I had to put my money on it, I think if one freshman player will make a big impact, it will be Isaiah Stegna. He’s one of the fastest kids in the country and comes right from Fayetteville,” Bazzel said.
Stegna, No. 16, is a 5’11” wide receiver that graduated from Fayetteville High School. Not only was he a top-rated prospect in Arkansas, but he was also ranked as the 29 top-rated prospect in the country by 247Sports.
With KJ Jefferson, No. 1, returning this season as the Razorbacks’ quarterback, Bazzel is hopeful for an even better season this fall.
“KJ Jefferson led the team in rushing and passing and leadership and he’s the biggest key to success this season,” Bazzel said. “The combination of this, as well as a number of our returning running backs, makes for a good lineup.”
The Southeastern Conference ranked Arkansas as the No. 1 team in rushing the football last season.
“I have high hopes for the defensive line as well, but I think right now, that our biggest strength this upcoming season is going to be the offensive line and KJ,” Bazzel said, adding that offensive line coach, Cody Kennedy, and defensive line coach, Deke Adams, both add a lot of expertise to the program.
“I think it’s good that Razorback fans have high expectations. We won nine times last year and I think this year a lot of us want to win 10. The players told Pittman they wanted to win double digits,” Bazzel said. “I love that the fans are excited again, I think that our state as a whole functions better when the Razorbacks are winning, and we broke a lot of our losing streaks last year.”
Bazzel said he doesn’t know what the season will bring as far as wins and losses, but what he does know is that he is glad the team is back where it needs to be.
“I think one of the biggest things I really like about Pittman is that when you watch a Sam Pittman team, they play hard the whole game. He’s a tough-nose coach and his players play hard the entire game, and that is the best foundation for any great program,” he said.