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Dancing With Red Wolves — They Come From Everywhere

Arkansas State has welcomed 40 transfers from FBS, FCS and JC teams.

The officiating crew will instruct Arkansas State and Washington captains to acknowledge each other and shake hands during the pre-game coin toss on Saturday at Husky Stadium.

However, this sort of formality is nothing new for the Red Wolves. Making introductions is what they do all day long. They're all still getting to know one another, and this is no simple task.

At Arkansas State, it's have team, will travel.

With a new coach in Butch Jones, previously best known for his work at Tennessee and a Nick Saban coach reclamation project similar to Steve Sarkisian, he brings a band of traveling minstrels to Seattle for the 1:15 p.m. kickoff in what should be rainy, windy weather. 

While transfers are a huge part of college football everywhere now, Arkansas State takes this practice to a whole different level. 

Forty of the 113 players on the roster for the Jonesboro, Arkansas, school are college transplants. FBS, FCS and community-college exiles.

The rotating No. 1 quarterbacks, James Blackman and Layne Hatcher, previously played for Florida State and Alabama, respectively. 

The starting running back, Alan Lamar, began his career at Yale.

Arkansas State's top edge rushers, Joe Ozougwu and Kivon Bennett, initially played for North Texas and Tennessee, respectively. 

The starting right tackle, Robert Holmes, switched over to the Red Wolves from Austin Peay. 

Jones also has accumulated players who previously pulled on uniforms for Boise State, Boston College, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Iowa, Iowa State, Louisville, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia and Western Carolina.

Building his Sun Belt program on the fly, the first-year coach has somebody from every Power 5 conference and more, with the exception of a Pac-12 defector or two.

Blackmon, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound junior from South Bay, Florida, spent four seasons at Florida State. He started as a true freshman in 2017 and sporadically after that, and he captained the 2018 team. He ranks among the Seminoles' all-time passers in several categories. 

He threw for 233 yards and a bowl-record 4 touchdowns in a 42-13 win over Southern Mississippi in the 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was named offensive MVP.

This season, Blackmon started the Red Wolves' opener against Central Arkansas and he inadvertently lost his helmet, forcing him per rule to the sidelines in favor of Hatcher. The backup stayed in the game for a lengthy spell and proceeded to throw 4 touchdown passes in a 40-21 victory.

"It's a luxury," Husky coach Jimmy Lake said of the tandem. "They've got two real talented quarterbacks."

For that effort, the 5-foot-11, 211-pound Hatcher earned the right to open the next game against Memphis, a 55-50 defeat. He had what he did happen to him. Blackmon came on in relief and threw 4 scoring passes.  

Hatcher is a Little Rock native who redshirted at Alabama in 2018. He came home to Arkansas State the following season and was so good he was named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.

He started nine games for the Red Wolves in 2019, including a 34-26 victory over Florida International University in the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. He finished that season by completing 204 of 310 passing attempts for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Besides all of these transient FBS players, Arkansas State has picked up 15 JC players and another four from the FCS ranks. So much for recruiting your own talent these days.

It won't be unusual if these guys are spotted straining to see the names emblazoned across their teammates' backs in the heat of the action, just trying to get familiar in their third game together. 

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