Ranking Arkansas football's impact freshmen

FAYETTEVILLE — On a tour through the projected top impact players on the Arkansas football roster, we begin with the class that makes for probably the most fun edition: The freshmen. A good chunk of these players has already been on campus, as it goes with the current trend of players graduating high school early in order to compete in the key 15 practices of spring. Players from that group who appeared to reach the two-deep depth chart by the end of spring include cornerback Jaylon Braxton, ranked by some services as the top freshman signee in the class, and tight end Luke Hasz, who was mentioned multiple times by Coach Sam Pittman as having a big spring. More from WholeHogSports: Our latest pre-NBA Draft coverage Another portion of this group is redshirt players, including our projection for the top impact player in the class. And a final group is signees such as 6-6 defensive end Quincy Rhodes of North Little Rock, 6-5 tight end Shamar Easter of Ashdown, 6-2 running back Isaiah Augustave of Naples, Fla., and others who signed with the Razorbacks but did not participate in spring drills. The redshirts maybe showed glimpses of their talent last season and through spring practices and that’s where this list will begin. 1. WR Isaiah Sategna This was a slam dunk choice. One of the fastest players on the roster, Sategna’s value was evident in spring ball as offensive coordinator Dan Enos clearly emphasized schemes that will put the ball in the hands of the Fayetteville High School product. Beyond that, quarterback KJ Jefferson clearly formed a bond with the 5-11, 178-pounder, showing that redshirt sophomore Bryce Stephens and Sategna could be a dynamic 1-2 combo in the slot this fall. Sategna did not go through spring ball in 2022 so he started from behind in camp, then he endured a high ankle sprain that set him back further, making the decision to redshirt him an easy one. He wound up playing in four games and contributing 2 catches for 12 yards, including a 10-yard gain at Auburn. Sategna’s production in practices continued to rise through the spring and culminated with his two-touchdown effort in the Red-White spring showcase. 2. TE Luke Hasz The first true freshman on the list and the player in his class who drew the most positive commentary from Sam Pittman during the spring. First, Pittman praised the family for instilling a work ethic into Luke and his twin brother Dylan, a defensive back signee who also went through spring drills with the Hogs. Then Luke Hasz began getting traction in the light tight end room, where the top scholarship returnees are Nathan Bax and redshirt freshman Ty Washington. About midway through spring, Pittman commented that Hasz was having four, five or more catches per day in team drills. The 6-3, 226-pounder will need to bulk up to become a more physical blocker and a two-way threat, but his route running and pass catching skills are already above par for the position. 3. TE Ty Washington Back to back tight ends on this list for sure. Washington wound up getting into five games, with significant special teams work, and retained his redshirt because the fifth game was the Liberty Bowl. The NCAA allowed the bowl game not to count toward redshirt status last season because of the rise of opt-outs hurting rosters in December. Good thing Washington played against Kansas: His first career catch was a beautifully-designed, and protected, double-fake pass to the wide open 6-4, 244-pounder for a touchdown. Washington looks to be in the mix for good playing time at a position where the Razorbacks made multiple acquisitions through the transfer portal. 4. DB Jaylen Lewis Lewis played a good chunk of spring ball with the first unit at nickel back and continued to improve his knowledge of the new schemes installed by defensive coordinator Travis Williams and co-coordinator Marcus Woodson. Much like the Hogs’ most recent secondaries, it appears there will be significant cross training, so players like Malik Chavis and transfer Al Walcott, when he returns from the knee injury that kept him out of spring drills, and possibly Jaheim Singletary could wind up getting looks at nickel back. In what became a vast overhaul of the Arkansas defensive backfield during the winter, it was good to see the 6-0, 189-pounder from Brownsville, Tenn., stay with the program. 5. OL E’Marion Harris The 6-7, 297-pounder from Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock got a big jump on 2023 by entering the game early in the Liberty Bowl for injured right guard Ty’Kieast Crawford, who himself was getting a great chance to prove himself after center Ricky Stromberg opted out of the bowl and Beaux Limmer slid over to take his spot. The best thing about Harris’ performance in the Hogs’ 55-53 triple-overtime win over Kansas at Memphis was he didn’t draw attention with penalties or poor play and did his job protecting KJ Jefferson and doing work for the big running attack. Harris was also dinged-up in the Red White spring showcase. It appears he will be heavily in the running at right guard with transfer Joshua Braun and Crawford. Wish we could rank Defensive back Jaheim Singletary, as the Georgia transfer and former 5-star signee comes with plenty of intrigue. Also in contention Running back Isaiah Augustave, cornerback Jaylon Braxton, linebacker Carson Dean.

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