For many years now the Arkansas Razorbacks have been spoiled with phenomenal special team players and this year some new faces could emerged as playmakers for key positions.
It will also be interesting to see how new defensive line/specialist coach Rory Segrest implements his style for the 2014-2015 season.
Let’s take a position-by-position look at potential starters for the Hog’s special teams this year.
Zach Hocker is one of, if not the best kicker in the history of Arkansas football, but has finally moved onto the NFL. Hocker was selected in the seventh round by the Washington Redskins and leaves as Arkansas’ all-time leader in career points after starting all four years as a Razorback.
With the bad news of Hocker departing, comes the good news of one of the best kickers in this years class signing with the Hogs in the spring.
Cole Hedlund out of Argyle, Texas should come in and be the starter for the next four years, just like Hocker did. The Pararde All-American and First-Team All-USA Today star holds the national record with 52 career field goals made and had a long of 57-yards in his senior year.
Obviously the kid can kick, but sometimes the high-pressure situations of a college kicker can get to some young guys, but I fully expect Hedlund to show off his leg in summer camp and take over the void that Hocker left.
There’s no doubt that Sam Irwin-Hill, the ambidextrous punter from Australia, will continue to be the main guy for the Razorbacks in 2014. His unethical, yet effective punting style gave him an average of 44.3 yards while also leading the SEC with 20 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Hopefully this year the Hog offense will be better that way Irwin-Hill won’t have to fake punt near as much as he did a year ago. I fully expect him to continue on from his first season as a Hog and improve on his play from last year.
This years kickoff return staff could turn out to be very effective, unlike in 2013. Korliss Marshall seems to be on the verge of becoming a breakout star for the Arkansas football team in 2014 and it could all start at the return spot.
Last year, Marshall had 422 kick return yards including an 87-yard return to set up an easy score against Auburn. His tremendous elusiveness and speed make him the perfect guy for the job again this season.
I see Marshall carrying most of the load, but some freshman like Jared Cornelius or JoJo Robinson may be alongside him.
Javontee Herndon has graduated so that means that the punt return spot is now wide-open and the Hogs need to find a sure-handed and speedy playmaker for the spot.
I think that the early enrolled Jared Cornelius will be the guy that takes it over. He has incredible hands and athleticism for a true-freshman that will be ideal for the spot. Korliss Marshall may also get a chance at the spot as well as JoJo Robinson once he shows off his talent this summer.
While it may be overlooked a lot of times, it is one that can have dramatic effects on games that Razorback fans are very aware of because of Joe Adams‘ prolific play a few years back.
There are a lot of question marks for the special teams going into the 2014 season for Arkansas, but I think that Bielema and Segrest will get the best guys in the right spots to make it a successful position group for the Hogs.
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