KJ Jefferson comfortable in new offense

By Otis Kirk
on 2023-03-10 20:06 PM

FAYETTEVILLE — KJ Jefferson is working with a new quarterback coach and offensive coordinator in Dan Enos.

Enos is the third offensive coordinator Jefferson has worked with since arriving at Arkansas. He has spent the past three seasons, two starting, with Kendal Briles. But Briles moved on to TCU and Sam Pittman hired Enos from Maryland. Following Friday’s second spring practice. Jefferson talked about how it’s going for him.

“I mean just everybody’s just buying in,” Jefferson said. “We’re all learning. It’s a new system so everybody’s just taking time out to adjust and accept change and everybody’s coming out paying attention and just focusing on little details. Everybody’s buying into the process and just accepting change. Feel like everybody’s doing real good. Feel like we’re in a really good spot and off to a great start.”

Jefferson was seen taking some snaps under center this spring. Jefferson said to expect more of that.

“We do various amounts,” Jefferson said. “We’ll be under center, Shotgun, Pistol. We switch it up all the time. So Coach Enos also has just told us he wants us to get comfortable starting off under center and just mixing up different things, different footwork and things trying to get us comfortable for this upcoming season. We’ve all bought into it. We’re all enjoying it. It’s going great.”

Jefferson talked about how the offense will look different this season.

“Just our schemes,” Jefferson said. “Our main thing is to look complex but remain simple. So I mean we want to do a lot of different shifts. We want to line up many different ways but still running the same plays. I would just say our main thing is to look complex but remain simple.”

Cade Fortin has returned for his super senior season. Joining Jefferson, Fortin and some preferred walk-on quarterbacks are North Carolina transfer Jacolby Criswell and true freshman Malachi Singleton.

” Those guys are extremely talented,” Jefferson said. “I mean, the main thing is, Jacolby has been in a system like this, so he knows what it takes. Great ball guy. Loves football. Malachi is coming in, so he’s still trying to find his role right now and get [acclimated] to college ball and the speed of trying to slow the game down for himself.

“So, with those guys, we just try to wrap our arms around, me and Cade Fortin, just try to wrap our arms around those guys, keep bringing them on. Just basically being able to be a big brother and help those guys out any way we can and keep bringing them along. Those guys are tremendous in the weight room, in the meeting room and on the field, as well. Extremely happy to have those guys in the room with us.”

The Hogs have some key returning wide receivers such as Jaedon Wilson, Bryce Stephens, Isaiah Sategna and Sam Mbake, but they also signed three transfers. Tyrone Broden came from Bowling Green, Andrew Armstrong from Texas A&M-Commerce and Isaac TeSlaa played at Hillsdale College.

“Those guys came in always willing to get extra work, try to perfect their craft in any way they can whether that’s in the meeting room, on the field catching balls, running routes, contested catches,” Jefferson said. “Anything, those guys are always trying to perfect their craft. Just bringing in work ethic here and just all the other guys being able to just feed off the energy and that work ethic just grows that talent in that room and the competition level. Those guys came in and worked, and I’m just glad to have those guys on my side, and I can throw those guys the ball.”

Broden is listed at 6-foot-7 while both Armstrong and TeSlaa are 6-4. Jefferson smiled when asked if he feels good about them winning their share of 50/50 balls.

“Oh yes sir,” Jefferson said. “Yes sir. With Broden outside… All of them have very good strong hands and great ball skills in tracking the ball and making contested catches. So I do feel like they’ll win a majority of the 50/50 balls, for sure.”

Pittman has praised Wilson all spring. Jefferson was asked if he feels Wilson will have a breakout season?

“I do,” Jefferson said. “Just his growth, his maturity. He’s understanding the offense, understanding college ball and the speed of college ball now. Now that he’s in a big role this season, just being able to come out and just see his growth and his maturity level and his football IQ just raise through the roof now, understanding what the defense is trying to get into and understand the route and why we’re calling this play for him to get open or certain situations. Just being able to see him grow in areas that he lacked in last year and taking that step forward. I’m extremely proud of him, just our growth and maturity level.”

Wilson got the start in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and responded with two receptions for 47 yards. That has helped propel into a very good offseason and first two days of spring drills.

The Razorbacks will return to the practice fields on Sunday with a closed practice to the media.

(Last updated: 2023-03-10 20:06 PM)