Early Playing Time Candidates For Arkansas Razorbacks

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Arkansas Razorbacks had a fine recruiting class for 2013.

If you consider the fact that new coach Bret Bielema really only had about two months to work, it’s even more impressive.  Granted, many thanks should go to the previous coaching staff, who did a fine job of building the foundation of this class, and kept most of it together through tumultuous times.  But Bielema closed strong with some big names like Alex Collins and Denver Kirkland on National Signing Day.

So which guys have the potential to play early?

Collins was considered by 247sports to be the number one running back in the country, and it was a huge coup by Bielema and co. snagging the star tailback from his hometown Miami Hurricanes.  With Knile Davis leaving early for the NFL Draft, there’s a sizable hole at the running back position.  Collins could very easily win the starting spot with a strong summer camp performance, and has the physical skills to compete right away in the SEC.

John McClure is a Junior College transfer who should lockdown a starting guard spot by the end of spring ball. The Hogs are losing both starters at this position and need an infusion of talent and experience. McClure enrolled early, and the extra reps will help this two-time JUCO All American acclimate for life in the toughest conference.

Reeve Koehler is another guard who could see early snaps.  There’s a need for starters and backups at this position, and Koehler has the size and strength to see time right away.  At 6’3” 330lbs and carrying a nasty demeanor, he plays his role well.

On the defensive side of the ball, a pair of JUCO linebackers have the best chance to see lots of time right away.  Myke Tavarres and Martrell Spaight should both be the starting outside linebackers by week 1.  Tavarres will have the benefit of going through spring drills, while Spaight won’t enroll until early summer.  Regardless, both are bringing a sense of physicality, leadership and toughness to a unit that is really only bringing back freshmen from last years linebacking corps.

If I had to name one other, it would be Carroll Washington, a JUCO cornerback who is enrolled in time for spring ball.  Granted, the Hogs bring back starters Will Hines and Tevin Mitchell, but there’s not a lot of numbers or experience after that.  Washington should be the nickel back from day one.

As you can see, lots of young talent on the offensive side of the ball, and lots of experienced talent on the defensive side of the ball.  Year one of the Bielema regime should prove to be very interesting.

Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for RantSports.com. In addition to covering College Football, he also covers the NFL and NFL Draft.  Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.

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