Arkansas Football Recruiting Report
Arkansas football is in a rebuilding phase. The program is still young and has several talented players expected to be the following big things. These players include quarterback Jordan Sanders, running back Darren McFadden, and wide receiver Barry Odom. This article discusses some of the recent developments in these players’ careers, as well as the role of Darren Smith in developing these players.
Darren McFadden’s career
Darren McFadden’s career in Arkansas football was an outstanding one. The former Wildcat back was one of the most productive players in SEC history. He won two Doak Walker awards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy race.
His career rushing yards are the third-highest total in SEC history. As of 2017, he is one of just three players to reach the 1,000-yard mark in the first three seasons of their career.
Darren McFadden is the only player in the SEC to earn back-to-back SEC Offensive Player of the Year awards. He also won the Jim Brown National Running Back of the Year award.
He is the most decorated player in Arkansas history. He is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, he has volunteered with the Salvation Army and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Darren McFadden racked up 2,310 yards and 30 touchdowns during his time at Arkansas. He led the Razorbacks to the SEC Western Division title. In 2007, he was named the SEC’s Most Valuable Player.
Darren Smith’s role in developing Sanders
Darren Smith is a coach of athletes at all levels. He’s won 51 games and has coached some of the greatest short-course athletes.
He’s been coaching for over 12 years and has won numerous accolades for his team. A former quarterback, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State and added a master’s degree from Georgia State.
Before he became an assistant football coach, he worked as a quality control coach. In 2010, he helped quarterback Vince Young achieve a career-high passer rating. He also served as quarterbacks/passing game coordinator.
Smith started his coaching career at Darlington (S.C.) High School. The school’s 67-14-1 record in football is the best in the state. And Smith has been recognized with various awards, including the Region 5 AAA Athletic Director of the Year.
While Smith hasn’t received much media attention, he’s a very successful coach. His Cedar Grove (Atlanta) High School team has won back-to-back Class AAA state championships in 2016 and 2018.
Smith has won a slew of accolades in his career. Most recently, he’s been named the 2018 Region 5-AAA Athletic Director of the Year.
Barry Odom’s career
Barry Odom spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He had a lot of success with the team, as his units were considered among the best in the nation. However, he had a disappointing final season with the Razorbacks.
Odom produced some impressive numbers in the first two years of his coaching career. His defense forced turnovers and allowed only 28.8 points per game, which was the second-best mark in the SEC. This marked the lowest total allowed by the Razorbacks in seven years.
The numbers did not translate into a win for the Razorbacks in 2022. Instead, the team finished the year with 18 turnovers. These turnovers ranked fourth in the SEC. Overall, Arkansas was 11th in scoring defense with 28.8 points per game, which was also the sixth-best mark in the conference.
Although the Razorbacks were in the bottom half of the league in most major statistical categories, they were among the best in the SEC. For instance, their 18 takeaways were 25th in the nation.
Recruiting report with Otis Kirk
Arkansas Football Recruiting Report: A week of recruiting news from the Razorbacks featuring Otis Kirk. The recruits featured include:
Arkansas’ defense is a significant concern for the program. Therefore, the defensive line is one of the priority areas in this class. Several high school standouts and junior college players are in the mix. It will be interesting to see how the Razorbacks decide to fill the hole in the defensive line.
Another area to watch is the defensive back. Former Blinn safety Walner Leandre has been in the picture, as well as former Alfred State safety Matt Hewitt. These prospects have been evaluated and are viewed as candidates for starting roles.
On the defensive side of the ball, David Bedford is a 6-5 240-pound defensive end who Arkansas has watched. Independence Community College also has defensive linemen who are being rated.
RB Brandon Denmark is 6-4, 214, and 4.75. Tallahassee Rickards also has a running back in the mix, and he is from the same high school as current Arkansas RB Michael Smith.
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