Arkansas Razorbacks news: Pittman on Dodd Trophy preseason watch list, landing four-star recruit Braxton, more

Sam Pittman Is On The Dodd Trophy Preseason Watch List

Expectations are considerably higher for Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks following a feel-good turnaround in 2021.

A year after the Razorbacks finished a disappointing 3-10, Pittman led the school to a 9-4 season. The season was capped off with a dominant 24-10 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2022 Outback Bowl.

On Tuesday, Pittman was among the 20 head coaches named to the preseason watch list for the Dodd Trophy. The award is presented annually to “the FBS football coach whose program represents three pillars of success: Scholarship, Leadership, and Integrity.”

Last year, Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell was named the winner of the Dodd Trophy. Cincinnati qualified for the NCAA College Football Playoffs but fell to Alabama in the semifinals.

The Razorbacks are one of several teams you can place wagers on in Arkansas sports betting. New customers can enjoy lucrative offers from multiple sportsbooks in the state, including a $1,000 risk-free bet from FanDuel, a $1,000 risk-free bet and $50 sign-up bonus from BetMGM, and a $1,100 risk-free bet from Caesars.

Arkansas is a massive +1600 underdog to win the SEC West division at FanDuel. The Crimson Tide are the overwhelming betting favorites at -400, followed by Texas A&M (+600) and then Ole Miss and Arkansas (+1600).

No Razorbacks head coach has ever won the Dodd Trophy. Fickell, Nick Saban (Alabama), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss), and Dabo Swinney (Clemson) are among the other coaches on the preseason watch list.

Pittman has garnered significant praise for turning the Razorbacks program around. 2021 marked the school’s first winning season since 2016, and expectations are considerably higher entering 2022. So it’s no wonder that Pittman is already on the Dodd Trophy watch list.

The Razorbacks will open their season with a highly-anticipated home showdown against Cincinnati (3:30 p.m. EST) on Sept. 3. Seven days later, Arkansas will welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to town (12:00 p.m. EST).

Razorbacks Get Four-Star Corner Recruit Jaylon Braxton

Jaylon Braxton, a standout cornerback from Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas, is taking his talents to Arkansas.

On the weekend, Braxton announced that he was joining the Arkansas football program. Per 247Sports, Braxton received offers from other major programs such as Baylor, Penn State, and LSU.

Braxton is a four-star cornerback prospect whom 247Sports ranked as the No. 244 prospect.

The Razorbacks lost one key player from last season’s team in cornerback Montaric Brown, who was drafted in the seventh round (22nd overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars. This came a year after the Detroit Lions signed Arkansas corner Jerry Jacobs as an undrafted free agent.

The defense will once again be vital as the Razorbacks try to build off a surprisingly successful 2021 campaign. For Pittman and company, it’s a relief to know they have a quality standout cornerback who could emerge as a game-changer.

Pittman Sounds Off On Treylon Burks-Less Offense

The Razorbacks will have the difficult task of replacing superstar wideout Treylon Burks, who was selected 18th overall by the Tennessee Titans in this year’s draft.

The Titans landed the pick from the Philadelphia Eagles via the stunning A.J. Brown trade. With Burks now in the NFL, Arkansas desperately needs its other receivers to step up in 2022.

But during an interview with Aaron Suttles of The Athletic, Pittman expressed confidence that his receiver room will be able to make up for the production that Burks leaves behind.

“We’re gonna have to handle the wide receiver room and make sure that we can replace Burks and maybe as a committee replace him, but other than that, I think the leadership there in our backups and our guys who are twos are much better,” Pittman said.

Burks was one of the top receivers in the nation last year, racking up 66 catches for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns.

He was one of six wide receivers taken in round one, along with Drake London (eighth overall to the Atlanta Falcons), Garrett Wilson (tenth overall, New York Jets), Chris Olave (11th overall, New Orleans Saints), Jameson Williams (12th overall, Detroit Lions) and Jahan Watson (16th overall, Washington Commanders).

With Burks out of the picture, K.J. Jefferson and the offense will lean a lot more on the likes of Ketron Jackson Jr., Matt Landers, Bryce Stephens, and Jaquayln Crawford. Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how the Razorbacks perform on offense with a new-look receiver group.