Razorbacks Catalon & Crawford Give Update After Monday’s Practice

Razorback freshman quarterback Malik Hornsby (#4) from Missouri City, TX pitches to freshman running back Raheim Sanders (#5) from Rockledge, FL at practice at the Willard & Pat Walker Pavilion Monday afternoon in Fayetteville, AR.

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE –  “Given they still recovered from last Saturday’s scrimmage, finished practice in the evening following the start of University of Arkansas classes, and began this last, long preseason week without a game, the Razorbacks posted a productive Monday,” starting fourth-year safety Jalen Catalon said.

Catalon and via the Oklahoma Sooners transfer receiver Jaqualyn Crawford met with media after Coach Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks practiced Monday.

Arkansas doesn’t open its season until Sept. 4 hosting the Rice Owls at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

“It looked good,” Catalon said of Monday’s practice.  “We were focused for the most part.  I think everybody had the right mindset.  Everybody was still trying to get back from the scrimmage we had Saturday and trying to get their bodies back.  So our schedule looked like that, a little lighter, but we were still in full attack mode.”

Pittman had said after Saturday’s scrimmage that how the Razorbacks practiced Monday, handling the first day of classes and coming off the final preseason scrimmage, would set the tone if they are to improve themselves during this final week without a game.

“Coach always says everybody goes through it, handling that football practice after the first day of classes, and we have to separate ourselves,” Catalon said.  “I thought we made good strides towards the upcoming first game and competed against each other.”

The Associated Press officially declared Catalon among the best naming him Monday as an AP second-team All-American.

“It’s a blessing for sure,” Catalon replied when asked about the honor.  “It’s a credit to my teammates and the coaches.  But I’m not putting too much eye on it. I’ve got bigger goals and that’s team goals and I’m just putting that forward to winning games and doing what I can to make the team better.”

Off his 99 tackles, three interceptions All-SEC and Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America honors for 2020, Catalon for 2021 has been named to Preseason All-SEC teams and is on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award annually in December honoring the nation’s best defensive back and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy nationally honoring the best defensive player.

Arkansas junior receiver Treylon Burks, this summer, was named Preseason Second-Team All-American by the Football Writers Association, a notch below where fellow Razorbacks receiver Crawford would have placed him.

First off, if he’s second team, I’d like to see who’s on the first team!” Crawford said.

Crawford went on about the 6-3 junior from Warren leading Arkansas last year with 51 catches, some so spectacular to making national highlights, for 820 yards with seven touchdowns.

“He’s a guy the offense looks to,” Crawford said.  “He’s the one who keeps us going.  He’s just a freak, man. The plays he makes and the things he does every day, it’s just something that everybody can’t do.”

Recruited in 2018 by Oklahoma as a 4-star recruit from Rockdale, Texas, Crawford redshirted as a freshman and played just one Sooners game in 2019 before transferring to Arkansas and having to redshirt again in 2020.

Because the NCAA relaxed a lot of personnel rules as covid plagued the 2020 season, Crawford was declared December eligible to practice and play against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Texas Bowl at Houston.

However, the game was cancelled because too many Horned Frogs tested covid positive.

“I got to practice with the team for a couple practices,” Crawford recalled.  “I was feeling good, starting to get back in  game mode, and really excited to showcase what I could do.”

And then…

“The crazy thing about it was, we were all dressed and ready and we were about to leave for the airport in about an hour,” Crawford recalled. “Then we had the team meeting and everything got canceled. It was a bummer, but everything happens for a reason.”

At least he had those practices and spring ball and this preseason to work his way into the slot receiver rotation.

“It’s a good feeling to know you’re practicing with a chance to play on Saturdays,” Crawford said.

“More than a chance,” says Catalon from practicing against him.

“I think he’s had a great camp,” Catalon said.  “He’s shown explosiveness and what he can do at the slot. And not just the slot, but you can put him in the backfield in packages with him. He creates so much dynamics to this offense. We can go with a two-threat of him and Burks. It could be unstoppable for sure.”

Catalon has been practicing in a green caution jersey but says he’s fine.

“They just kind of want to hold me out right now with my shoulder,’ Catalon said. “If we had a game tomorrow I would be good to go. They just want to make sure they keep it right and keep it healthy. Just have me ready for September 4.”

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