Not a whole lot went right for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2012; they finished a dismal 4-8 after starting the year considered a BCS Championship contender. There was a bright spot in all the darkness, however, and that was the Razorbacks’ defensive line, which featured All-SEC caliber seasons by end Chris Smith and tackle Byran Jones.
The good news is that the bulk of contributors on the line is back in 2013. The bad news is that three of the four projected starters up front are seniors, meaning there will be some serious holes to fill in 2014. Luckily, one of their current commitments for their 2014 recruiting class, defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson, has the ability to make an impact right away for the Hogs.
Jackson, from El Dorado High School (El Dorado, Ark.), is simply massive at 6-foot-2, 330 pounds. And he carries the weight pretty well, too. He doesn’t offer outstanding pass rushing capabilities, but he’s been known to collapse the pocket with a devastating bull rush. Stopping the run is his forte, and he’s got surprising lateral quickness in that regard. He’s as strong as an ox and absolutely explodes off the snap with a great punch. He reminds me of a slightly more athletic Jerrell Powe, the nation’s top defensive tackle from 2005.
Bottom line? Jackson’s skill set seems perfectly crafted for the SEC, which specializes in elite defensive linemen. He has the elite strength and athleticism to play right away at Arkansas, especially when you consider the depth.
When the 2014 season rolls around, the Razorbacks are going to be looking for two new starting defensive tackles. Can you imagine Jackson paired up next to current Razorback DeMarcus Hodge (6-foot-1, 340 pounds)? That would be the biggest pair of defensive tackles since probably Boston College‘s duo of Ron Brace (6-foot 3, 330-pounds) and B.J. Raji (6-foot 1, 340-pounds) back in 2008. If Hodge isn’t the man for the job, Darius Philon, a converted end, could also be in the mix.
Coach Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks aren’t finished recruiting defensive tackles, though, just because they have the immensely talented Jackson verbally committed. The Natural State has a second four-star defensive tackle this year in Joshua Frazier from Har-Ber High School (Springdale, Ark.), who’s still on the market. Frazier is even bigger than Jackson at 6-foot-4, 340 pounds! The Hogs are still in the mix for Frazier but will have some work to do to catch up with the University of Southern California, who’s viewed as the current leader.
Regardless of whether the Razorbacks sign Frazier or not, they still have their top target in Jackson. And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Jackson starting for Arkansas next fall.