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Switching of Wide Receivers Between Arkansas, Oklahoma Almost Feels Like NFL Trade

Surprising to most, scout projects Haselwood as first round NFL talent on defense instead

With modern college football stepping ever so close to becoming professional football with this year’s implementation of NIL deals to fill the pockets of popular athletes, it seems fitting that two schools should put together a trade of sorts.

Back in April, immediately following the Arkansas spring game, deep threat wide receiver Mike Woods left Fayetteville for Oklahoma.

A little over seven months later, Oklahoma wide receiver Jadon Haselwood will make things even.

After a long weekend visit to Fayetteville, Haselwood chose to make his decision known around the same time Arkansas coach Sam Pittman took his first question during his Outback Bowl press conference.

“Done deal let’s get it!” Haselwood posted with photos of him in Razorback gear six minutes into Pittman’s Q&A.

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WHAT DID ARKANSAS GET IN THIS “DEAL”

The most common knowledge is Haselwood is a former 5-star recruit who was the nation’s top receiver in 2019 out of Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia.

Depending on which recruiting service you trust, he rated anywhere from No. 19 all the way up to No. 4 in the overall rankings.

Along the way, Haselwood developed a willingness and pride in being a receiver who also blocks.

“I just want to win,” Haselwood said at a Tuesday press conference following a 52-31 win over TCU. “Whatever I gotta do, if it’s making a key block, catching the ball or getting a first down, whatever, I’m with it.”

A quick film study shows that while he doesn’t have elite speed, he does have elite hands. Time and again makes difficult catches in heavy coverage.

THE POSSIBLE TWIST

Everyone thinks of Haselwood as an elite receiver, but high school scouting guru, Barton Simmons, who took over the role of general manager of all things related to scouting and recruiting at Vanderbilt earlier this year, sees him differently.

One of the last players Simmons evaluated this past January at the end of 10 years of leadership in the 24/7 Sports scouting was Haselwood.

It was mildly surprising that Simmons, who saw NFL talent in a who’s-who of LSU and Alabama recruits that others didn’t, graded Haselwood as possessing first round NFL potential. The jaw dropping moment came when he said that potential is on defense as a safety.

Big, physical frame that could project seamlessly to safety. Still has room to fill out and get stronger but frame is there to be matchup problem on the outside. As good as anyone in 2019 class at jump ball situations. High points the football with strong hands and has quick-jump ability. Competent route-runner that uses his size advantage effectively to body smaller DBs. Has enough speed but is not a burner and wins with size and elite ball skills rather than separation. Played in run-oriented offense and was productive but will need more polish on the next level. Plays both sides of the ball in high school and could also be an elite safety. Impact high-level Power Five prospect with first round NFL upside.” – Barton Simmons

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FLARE FOR THE DRAMATICS?

While in high school, Haselwood chose desire to draw attention in a unique way.

He announced his Top-5 by wearing cleats in the Georgia 3A state championship game with each team’s logo displayed on them.

He eventually hauled in a leaping 22-yard game-winning touchdown in those shoes in with four seconds left to beat Peach County, 14-13, before sprinting off the field, helmet off.

The receiver Arkansas is getting still has a competitive edge to him.

While he doesn’t post as often as most college athletes, Haselwood’s social media is littered with videos of him making difficult catches.

However, there seems to be an extra bit of joy in retweeting videos of him laying out defensive backs with big, physical blocks. Just Google Haselwood Kansas State block to get a feel for what he can do.

SO WHERE’S THE DOWN SIDE?

The young man just hasn’t had his big season yet. He spent his first year adjusting to college life behind the likes of Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb and University of Miami super receiver Charleston Rambo.

The following spring, Haselwood tore his ACL in what he described as a “freak accident” at his home in Georgia. He didn’t see the field again until the final game of the regular season against Iowa State where he was able to knock the rust off with a pair of receptions.

This season was supposed to be his breakout season, but inconsistent quarterback play, a head coach with his mind on being anywhere other than Norman at year’s end, a fan base that turned against the team and individual players at times, and scrutiny from the national media about ugly wins made it anything but enjoyable.

A few subtle tweets hinted at frustration that came to a head on Nov. 29.

On that day, the Monday after the great escape by head coach Lincoln Riley to USC, Haselwood posted a tweet depicting the famous final scene from the series finale of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”

In it, Will, all alone, looks around an empty house in a moment of tortured confusion and sadness.

That same day, Haselwood ended a tumultuous potential dream season by posting a goodbye message to Sooner fans on Instagram.

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