Landon Jackson leads the defensive line

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There are still nine weekends to go until the return of football in Arkansas.

The Razorbacks open the 2024 season in Little Rock against UAPB. The kick-off is set for Thursday, August 29 at 6:30 PM (ESPNU).

Arkansas is coming off a disappointing 4-8 campaign that saw the firing of offensive coordinator Dan Enos midseason and the eventual transfers of KJ Jefferson and Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, two faces of the program.

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In response, the Hogs hired Bobby Petrino and entered the transfer portal, bringing in many newcomers for what feels like an extremely important season for head coach Sam Pittman.

For the next month, the Southwest Times Record will be running positional previews twice a week, asking two questions and making one bold prediction. Earlier this month, we covered the entire offense, including key position groups like the quarterbacks and the offensive line.

Here’s a look at the other big bodies along the defensive line entering 2024.

Are there clear starters on the defensive line for Arkansas football?

Defensive end Landon Jackson and defensive tackle Cam Ball are arguably the two most talented players on the entire roster, so they are poised to start for the Razorbacks this fall.

Jackson is a potential first-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft and led Arkansas in tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (6.5) last season. Ball started the final four games of the 2023 campaign and had a dominant spring. The success of the defense this season lies in Jackson and Ball maximizing their potential.

Pit master Arkansas football DT Cam Ball is turning a passion for barbecuing into a future career

The other two spots are still available. During the spring, Eric Gregory was the No. 2 tackle, but he will have competition from Keivie Rose and transfer Danny Saili. Nico Davillier got most of Anton Juncaj’s first-team reps in preseason camp, but Davillier has minimal collegiate experience as Juncaj enters his fifth season.

Sophomore Quincy Rhodes and freshmen Chalie Collins and Kavion Henderson could all climb the depth chart.

In reality, for this position group it is not important who starts. Defensive line coach Deke Adams wants a healthy rotation to keep the guys fresh in the fourth quarter. Fans can expect to see 8-12 defensive linemen this fall.

Can Anton Juncaj translate his production to the SEC?

Juncaj’s eye-popping stats in the FCS last season created waves of optimism when he committed to the Hogs in early January. Last season he was third in the FCS with 15 sacks for Albany. He also had 21.5 tackles for loss and was a first-team All-American.

But this spring he struggled. Pittman said Juncaj needed to get in better shape during the first week of practice, and the SEC newcomer needs to improve from the run to maximize his snaps this season.

Still, the potential is there. The last elite pass rusher to leave Albany was Jared Verse, who heard his name called after two years at Florida State with the 19th pick of this year’s NFL Draft.

Juncaj doesn’t have a high ceiling, but he and Jackson could form one of the best pass-rushing duos in the SEC if any of his past production translates into the league.

One bold prediction: Landon Jackson records double-digit sacks

A recent 2025 mock draft from CBS Sports projected Jackson to be selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 30th pick overall. Jackson will bolster his draft stock with a stellar senior season in Fayetteville.

Perhaps the biggest key to this prediction is the play of his teammates. Arkansas needs to develop the rest of the defensive line so Jackson doesn’t see double teams every time.

What the coaches said this spring

“I think he’s taken his game to the next level. Coach Adams is doing a really good job with the whole front four, coaching those guys and making sure those guys are prepared. You could see the growth from last year, starting with Cam Ball.”

– Arkansas defensive coordinator on Cam Ball’s development.

Projected depth chart

  • Landon Jackson, senior; Cam Ball, redshirt junior; Eric Gregory, redshirt senior; Nico Davillier, junior.
  • Anton Juncaj, senior; Keivie Rose, redshirt senior; Danny Saili, junior; Quincy Rhodes, sophomore.
  • Charlie Collins, freshman; Ian Geffrard, redshirt freshman; Kaleb James, redshirt freshman; Kavion Henderson, freshman.