10 Things to Know - Portland State
Arkansas opens the 2019 campaign and year two under head coach Chad Morris against Portland State on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m., at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network, as well as the ESPN app. Here are 10 things to know about the game before kick off.
- Saturday will be the first meeting between Arkansas and Portland State on the football field. It will also be the first of three “first-time” games for the Razorbacks this season. Arkansas will also host San Jose State (Sept. 21) and Western Kentucky (Nov. 9) later this year.
- The Razorbacks return 68 players from last year’s squad, welcoming in 53 newcomers. Arkansas has 53 freshmen on this year’s roster, including 36 true freshmen. Arkansas brings back its leading rusher (Rakeem Boyd), receiver (Cheyenne O’Grady), tackler (De’Jon Harris), tackler for loss (McTelvin Agim) and kicker (Connor Limpert) from the 2018 season. Forty-six student-athletes on the 2019 roster are from inside the state’s borders, with four from Fayetteville – Ty Clary, Elias Hale, Ty Clary and Cheyenne O’Grady.
- On Monday, Aug. 26, coach Morris named Ben Hicks the starting quarterback for the Razorbacks. A native of Waco, Texas, and graduate of SMU, Hicks made the decision to finish his collegiate career with a few familiar faces on the Hill. Hicks was with head coach Chad Morris & offensive coordinator Joe Craddock from the beginning of their tenure in Dallas, as Hicks redshirted in 2015, then became the starting quarterback after his first game as a Mustang in 2016. During their time together, Hicks became an Honorable Mention Freshman All-American (Campus Insiders), an Athlon Sports All-AAC fourth team member, earned various weekly awards and set the school’s single-season & career touchdowns records. Hicks left SMU as the all-time leader in passing yards (9,081), total offense (8,977), touchdown passes (71), touchdowns responsible for (74), completions (718) and 300-yard passing games (12).
- Senior linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris returns for his senior season to help lead the Arkansas defense. Harris has led the team in tackles in each of the last two years, with 115 in 2017 & 118 in 2018, the first since Jerry Franklin (2010-11) to do so in consecutive seasons. He has also recorded seven double-digit tackle games in each of the last two years, the first since Ken Hamlin (2001-02). Harris takes over as the conference active leader in career tackles with 270 heading into his senior year. He finished 2018 fifth behind senior teammate Dre Greenlaw & three others, playing between five & 17 fewer games than those in front of him.
- Another senior who came back for his senior year is defensive tackle McTelvin “Sosa” Agim, who will anchor the defensive front for the Razorbacks in 2019. Last season, Agim started all 12 games and posted 45 tackles, 19 solo and a team-high 10 for loss (44 yards), along with 4.5 sacks (25 yards). He also forced a team-best three fumbles and recovered another, while getting credit for 11 quarterback hurries. Agim is the only Razorback on the roster to have forced multiple fumbles in two different games, doing so at Colorado State last year and Mississippi State in 2017.
- The Razorbacks return 82 percent of their yards on the ground from a year ago, including the top three rushers in Rakeem Boyd (734), Devwah Whaley (368) and Chase Hayden (251). All three have recorded at least one 100-yard rushing game in their collegiate careers, as Boyd led the team with three last year while Whaley has four over his time at Arkansas. The trio has also been effective catching passes out of the backfield, combining for 42 receptions and 313 yards. Boyd finished the 2018 campaign ranked third in receiving with 23 receptions for 165 yards.
- Senior kicker Connor Limpert had an unforgettable 2018 season, writing his name in the Arkansas record books and positioning himself to land among the preseason favorites for the Lou Groza Award in 2019. A seminfinalist for the award last year and a watch list member heading into this season, Limpert put together a 19-for-24 line in field goal attempts, hitting multiple 50-yard kicks, including the seventh-longest in school history at 55 yards against Vanderbilt on Oct. 27. He enters the 2019 campaign with a career 81.8 field goal percentage, which currently leads all Arkansas kickers. His clip was aided last year by a streak of 10-straight over a five-week stretch, which ended on a 60-yard attempt against Vanderbilt that would’ve been the third-longest in Arkansas history.
- At a recent team meeting, head coach Chad Morris unveiled a new honor to be given to a senior every year on the third Saturday of fall camp. The award is named after legendary Arkansas coach & athletic director Frank Broyles and is presented to the player who best exemplifies what Coach Broyles stood for. It was a no-brainer for the first recipient of the award, as T.J. Smith was recognized on Aug. 17 to be this year’s honoree. Smith will wear a decal on the back of his helmet during the 2019 season that represents Coach Broyles.
- When the Razorbacks take the field this season, they’ll be sporting a new look that gives a nod back to a special era of Arkansas football. Back in July, the Razorback Football Twitter account posted photos of the “throwback” uniforms the team will wear this season as a call-back to an era of one of its greatest players in school history, Darren McFadden. With the word “ARKANSAS” emblazoned across the front of the jerseys and the two solid red stripes that will run down both sides of the pants, the Razorbacks will be donning a look that dates back to 2006 and 2007, McFadden’s final two years as a Hog.
- The 2019 season also marks the return to natural grass at DWRRS. The Tahoma 31 derives its name from the Native American word, Tahoma, which means frozen water. In test after test, Tahoma 31 shows its exceptional winter hardiness, tested up to 75 percent more cold tolerant than other bermuda grass varieties. With the additional characteristics of both improved wear tolerance and drought resistance, Tahoma 31 is ideal for sports turf, golf courses and high-quality lawns in the Mid-Atlantic & Transition Zone. The approximately 1800-pound rolls of Matrix turf feature an interwoven mesh support layer that provides strength and stability to the sod without compromise to drainage. The game lines seen on the field were painted by a self-propelled robot. New to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the first time in program history will be the introduction of painted-red endzones on the new natural grass. The north endzone will feaure the “Arkansas” wordmark, while the south endzone will brandish the “Razorbacks” across its borders.