Arkansas freshmen wide receivers Treylon Burks and Trey Knox are a perfectly matched mismatch for opposing secondaries.
The best part for Razorback fans is they probably really ain’t seen nothing yet out of these two.
Hogs wide receivers coach Justin Stepp has had one big-time receiver, Courtland Sutton at SMU, but having this pair is a little different.
“We didn’t have another guy that size on the other side,” Stepp said. “As far as safety rotation, it helps keep guys basic and they can’t really cloud a side because you have two weapons on the other side, as well.”
He would like to have them both on the field at the same time, which has only been in three games this year. Burks missed the San Jose State game, Knox was out of Saturday’s game against Texas A&M.
Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said back in the spring when Knox visited Fayetteville he told the other coaches after he left, “we won’t see him again.”
They had him for spring practice and Craddock wasn’t complaining anymore. It took until summer player-led workouts to get Burks in town, but the Warren native started making a splash almost from the first drill.
Together, they have made a formidable team. It’s not an accident.
“They’ve done a great job of preparing every single day,” Stepp said Wednesday after practice. “They study and they watch a lot of film. That shows up in how they play on Saturday.”
Knox missed the game against the Aggies with a nagging hip injury. Burks, meanwhile, stepped up with four catches for 58 yards, including a big-time 31-yard catch in the fourth quarter after he had jumped offsides.
“The good thing about it is every mistake we’ve made in a game is correctible,” Stepp said about the mistakes.
One of the biggest plays Burks made, though, wasn’t even a catch. When Ben Hicks short-armed a throw to an open Burks in the end zone, it looked like an interception … until Burks came back and knocked it away from the defender.
None of it surprises the folks back home in Warren, who’ve been watching Burks have jaw-dropping moments on the football field since he was in the fourth grade.
Plays like his 32-yard punt return that came within a whisker of being a touchdown became routine during his time with the Lumberjacks.
Burks catches punts like it’s a pass, high-pointing the ball and taking off. It initially drove Stepp crazy.
“When he started returning punts in fall camp, I was back there trying to coach my tail off and trying to get him fixed,” Stepp said. “Coach Morris finally looked at me one day and said, ‘Hey Stepp, just leave him alone.'”
Burks and Knox both just know how to make plays.
“He’s got an incredible future ahead of him,” Morris said about Burks. “As a freshman, just being able to make those plays is very impressive.”
But Stepp still has things he’s working on, mainly Burks’ knack for being an aggressive wide receiver when it comes to running after the catch.
“He tries to bully and run everybody over which is something different than you usually have in the room,” he said Wednesday.
They aren’t the only two big-time freshmen on the Hogs’ roster this year. T.Q. Jackson and Shamar Nash are also there and Jackson tends to make some plays in practice.
“That kid is electric,” Stepp said. “He can do some things physically that nobody else in that room can do. It’s our job to find the best ways to put him on the field where he can be successful.”
He’s just got to figure out a way to keep ’em all healthy and on the field together to go with Mike Woods, who has been big this year, too, and the senior citizen of the bunch as a sophomore while De’Vion Warren has been out.
If you’re looking for positives in a year that has started with a thud, just look at the guys lined up outside.
Because the odds are they are only going to get better.