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Arkansas football hosts Rice Saturday in 2021 opener

Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas Razorbacks(KBTX)
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 7:52 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2021 at 10:11 AM CDT
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Arkansas opens year two of the Sam Pittman era against former Southwest Conference rival Rice at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on SEC Network+/ESPN+. The Razorbacks and Owls last met on Nov. 23, 1991, in Little Rock, the final year of the SWC.

The Hogs went 3-7 in 2020 against a 10-game SEC-only schedule, recording home wins against Ole Miss (33-21) and Tennessee (24-13), and a road triumph at No. 16 Mississippi State (21-14) in Week 2, which was Arkansas’ first win over a ranked team since 2016. The Razorbacks were slated to play in the Mercari Texas Bowl, but a COVID-19 outbreak within TCU’s program canceled the game.

Arkansas returns 73% of its tackles from last season, including its top six tacklers, led by redshirt senior linebacker Grant Morgan’s SEC-best 111 stops. Morgan, who made his first career start in the season-opener against Georgia, garnered Walter Camp All-America honors a season ago. Redshirt sophomore DB Jalen Catalon led FBS freshmen making 99 tackles and was a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist, joining former Razorback legend Steve Atwater as the only Hogs to ever be named semifinalists for the award. Catalon tied for the team lead recording three interceptions and became the first SEC freshman since Tennessee’s Eric Berry in 2007 with at least 86 stops and three picks.

Junior WR Treylon Burks returns after leading the Hogs with 51 catches for 820 yards (16.1 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Many have called the Warren, Ark., native the best returning wideout in the SEC and he was named to Bruce Feldman’s 2021 College Football Freaks for his 10.75 inch hands. The Hogs return their leading rusher in redshirt junior RB Trelon Smith. After transferring from Arizona State and sitting out 2019, Smith ranked 10th in the SEC producing 710 rushing yards (5.3 ypc) and scored five touchdowns in 2020. He also contributed 22 receptions, ranking third on the team, for 159 yards and one score.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson takes the reins as the team’s starting signal caller from Feleipe Franks. Jefferson completed 20-of-41 (48.8%) of his passes last year for 295 yards and three touchdowns. He had a coming out party at Missouri, starting for Franks and throwing for 274 yards on 18-of-33 passing with three TDs and 32 rushing yards

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