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Hogs Feel Good About Linebacker Situation

Ton of youth, inexperience populate Arkansas' linebacker room
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - After losing three linebackers to the transfer portal, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman will have an opportunity to figure out what he truly has. Gone are Chris Paul (Ole Miss) Jaheim Thomas (Wisconsin) and Jordan Crook (Arizona State). Both were highly productive players. Mani Powell announced his move to UNLV after seeing time on special teams.

A lot of young players will receive looks during spring practice. Sophomore standout Brad Spence showed himself to be a playmaker of sorts with a pick-six during his collegiate debut against Western Carolina. Alex Sanford and Carson Dean are also a couple of guys to keep an eye on throughout March and April.

"I'm really about those guys." Pittman said of young linebackers. "I really like Spence, Sanford and Dean. Dean is a guy that can run and is big."

Pittman's staff also dabbled in the portal a bit and landed former 5-star Xavian Sorey from Georgia. He is expected to contribute right away in a starting role. Sorey was described as a player that's been a "good addition to the room."

The Razorbacks don't have a single player on the roster who has started a game at the linebacker position. With so many unknowns, Pittman mentioned to defensive coordinator Travis Williams he would like to see how spring practice plays out before browsing the transfer portal for more help. 

Pittman did share that his staff decided to move true freshman Julius Pope into a role at linebacker away from the secondary. The 4-star athlete signed with the Hogs over Alabama, Louisville, Michigan and Oregon. As a highly regarded prospect, the hype could help him see the field early in certain roles on defense.

"I like Pope," Pittman said. "We moved JuJu to [linebacker] and he's a little bit undersized right now at 205 pounds but he has that linebacker mentality."

The Razorbacks also signed a trio of highly regarded linebackers. Justin Logan has already enrolled for the spring semester and will take part in spring practice while Bradley Shaw and Wyatt Simmons will join the team after graduation. Pittman shared that he thinks the linebacker room turns out to be one of the better positions on defense when the final whistle blows.

"I think we're really going to see they all can run," Pittman said. "They're all big enough and physical they just haven't had the opportunity to get out there yet. So, we'll find out what we have I think. We're going to find that we're pretty good there. Young doesn't always mean you can't play, it just means you need experience."


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