FAYETTEVILLE – De’Vion Warren’s greatest season as a Razorback has come to a premature end.
The senior wide receiver tore the anterior cruciate ligament in a knee during Arkansas’ 63-35 loss at Florida last Saturday. Warren will miss the remainder of the season starting with the Razorbacks hosting LSU in Saturday’s 11 a.m. SEC West game televised by the SEC Network at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“De’Vion Warren is out,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said on his Monday Zoom press conference. “He’s got an ACL. He’s out for the season. I hate it for him, but he’s got a good attitude about it. I feel terrible that it happened.”
A now 4-year letterman playing previously for Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and Chad Morris regimes but with only 7 catches for 33 yards entering the 2020 season under new coach Pittman, Warren in all seven games for these 3-4 Razorbacks caught 15 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns, ran four reverses netting 44 yards and returned six kickoffs for 120 yards with a long one of 32.
Because of the hardships invoked by the covid-19 coronavirus, 2020 seniors are eligible to return with 2021 eligibility. Warren is among the seniors that Pittman was known to seek returning.
In Arkansas’ top three receivers rotation with Treylon Burks, 34 catches, 508 yards and five touchdowns, and Mike Woods, 23 catches, 413 yards and four touchdowns, Warren now likely will be replaced by senior Ty Morris, a Helena native and Fayetteville High alum with 5 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown this season, and sophomore Trey Knox, 4 catches for 33 yards.
What about younger receivers? Could touted but so far unplayed true freshman receiver Darin Turner of Memphis also could figure?
“When you start asking that question, Darin was the first one that popped to my mind,” Pittman said. “He’s been in and out of some quarantines and some different things that probably have hurt his development. But we have Trey Knox, and Trey will step in there along with Morris. Those guys will do well no doubt in my mind.
But the young guys, certainly Darin would be the one we would travel and move up into one of those nine spots.”
Redshirt freshman tight end Hudson Henry, dressed out but apparently injured and not used against Florida, was set likely to practice Monday, Pittman said. So were, he said, tight end Blake Kern and safety Joe Foucha, both banged up during the Florida game.
“ I think Kern will be fine,” Pittman said. “And I think Joe will be fine.”
Pittman includes himself in “the will be fine,” category, too.
In covid-19 quarantine since Nov. 9 which included staying home while associate head coach/defensive coordinator Barry Odom served as acting head coach last Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla., Pittman is optimistic he will test covid-19 negative and return at the office and in practice to work after a week of meeting with his team and staff on Zoom.
“ I feel really good,” Pittman said. “I’ll be back in the office on Wednesday. I sure appreciate everybody. Ol’ Daddy told me a long time ago the world don’t rotate around my butt but it sure felt like it with all the well wishes and all those things and I sure do appreciate it.”
Asked about the covid symptoms that affected him, Pittman cited fatigue and a sore back.
How difficult was it watching last Saturday night’s game on TV quarantined in a pool house with his bulldog, Lucy, vs. coaching on the sideline?
“Watching the game was difficult because you are just not there and for whatever reason you feel like your presence might have something to do with the game,” Pittman said. “I don’t want to give myself that much credit, but I just missed being around the guys.”
Since he’s even quarantined from his wife, Jamie, Lucy was his lone TV companion.
“Lucy doesn’t say much and she wasn’t too much into the game you know,” Pittman said. “So I kinda had to be myself on that one.”
While Pittman missed a game, his team has played every game scheduled so far.
Coach Ed Orgeron’s Tigers have endured two covid-19 postponements. The first vs. Florida because the Gators suffered an early-season outbreak and then LSU suffered its own outbreak and postponed last Saturday’s game scheduled against Alabama.
“You know, it’s unfortunate for them because they haven’t played in 21 days,” Pittman said.