While it is unrealistic to think Arkansas could have a magical turnaround and play in the national championship game next season, it's not inconceivable to think the Razorbacks' incoming true freshman wide receivers could have a similar impact as the ones from Clemson and Alabama this season.
Clemson's Justyn Ross (46 catches, 1,000 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Alabama's Jaylen Waddle (45 catches, 848 yards, 7 TDs) were both big cogs for their teams in their rookie seasons.
The Razorbacks' four-star quartet includes early enrollees Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman's Trey Knox (6-foot-5, 218 pounds); Bradenton, Fla., and IMG Academy's Shamar Nash (6-3, 194); along with Warren's Treylon Burks (6-3, 210); and Jefferson, Texas', TQ Jackson (6-4, 195), with all expecting to be in the rotation.
"It gives me hope that myself and other guys can come in and make big plays just like the guys at Clemson and Alabama did," Knox said. "I feel like we have a lot of talent that is going to be able to turn the offense into a very exciting one along with the guys already there."
It is a collection of big, fast pass catchers who all look to be very good route runners and receivers who will push the veterans on campus to either get better or get passed by.
"I think we all have great ability and all are coming in with the chance to make a big impact right away," Knox said. "I also think we all believe in (Arkansas head) Coach (Chad) Morris and his ability to turn around the program and (Razorbacks wide receivers) Coach (Justin) Stepp's coaching that can get us to where we all want to go, to the NFL like he has with some other guys."
Stepp is pumped about landing Knox, regarded as a top-40 receiver nationally and 274th-best player in the 2019 class and part of a Razorbacks class ranked 12th nationally by Rivals.
"He is a big kid," Stepp said. "That's what SEC receivers are supposed to look like. Trey actually came up here in late February, mid-March last year, and when he walked out of the building I said, 'You know what, we'll never see that kid again.'
"He had Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Clemson -- I mean he had school after school. But he and I developed a really good relationship, and we talked almost every single day. Obviously his body size and length are exactly what we want at this position. ... He reminds me a lot of Mike Williams, who we had at Clemson. He plays 6-5. He plays to his size and doesn't play small. I'm fired up about him."
Knox and Nash will have an edge on the other two true freshmen after their arrival Tuesday as part of a group of nine early enrollees.
Knox chose Arkansas over Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and others.
"I think getting in here early helps my chances of playing early, and that's a big deal for me," Knox said. "I will be able to go through strength and conditioning and see how they operate, and when spring practice rolls around I can begin competing for a spot right away."
Knox caught 141 passes for 1,894 yards and 19 touchdowns in his high school career while using his 4.6 speed and 35-inch vertical.
He hauled in 35 passes for 558 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 10 games as a senior for the Blaze, averaging 16.1 yards per catch. Knox also rushed for 301 yards on 34 carries with 5 TDs and 19 tackles this season.
"My strengths are obviously my size, my route running, I have a big catch radius," Knox said. "I also have a very good knowledge of the game. My football IQ is pretty good, I would say.
"I have good speed, but I want to keep working on that because you can never be fast enough."
Knox doubled as a middle linebacker on his high school team and brings that mentality to offense.
"I like to use my body and go in with the mindset of hitting before I get hit," Knox said. "I take that mentality on the field on offense as well. I am going to make the play before the defensive back can, make the catch and initiate contact before he can."
Knox was high school teammates with cornerback Adonis Otey, who is committed to Arkansas and has plans to sign with the Razorbacks on Feb. 6 but may take other visits.
"I do think that Adonis will come to Arkansas," Knox said. "We will be getting an aggressive DB who plays the ball well. He is a great athlete."
Knox said that none of the four wideouts ever wavered during the Razorbacks' 2-10 season.
"It is very exciting to venture off from home, get into the college routine and start this change in the program and starting it with this great class we have coming," Knox said. "It is a very big move. I think our group is going to be able to cash in early and help get Arkansas back quickly to where it used to be."
Sports on 01/10/2019
Print Headline: Knox expects incoming wide receivers to have big impact