While we eat barbecue, Coach Butch Jones works the transfer portal.

Are the Red Wolves flying too far beneath the wire? Admittedly, that’s more August Content than it is June Content, so we’ll save those clicks for later. But it’s appropriate to mention now that neither Athlon Sports (no Red Wolves on the First or Second Team Preseason Sun Belt) or PFF (ranks the Red Wolves 110 out of 130 programs) have much respect for Arkansas State football.

By itself, this means nothing. Preseason pundits are only guessing and are mostly fishing for clicks like me. Still, Red Wolves fans have not been victim to this kind of hype-less season since 2010. And you wonder if the Red Wolves new head football coach takes umbrage.

In recent days, Jones has become a Level 11 Transfer Portal Mage, craftily spackling the holes in both the offense and defense with a range of college football’s malcontents. Jones has addressed problems a linebacker, offensive line, and quarterback like a Dad browsing the Home Depot.

Arkansas State’s prior head coach, Blake Anderson, wasn’t exactly shy with his transfer trigger. The Red Wolves have long been college football’s Casablanca. We’ve welcomed everyone and anyone, with a mix of results. But what we’re seeing with Jones (and with the expansion of Transfer Portal Powers) is something else. It’s almost as if he’s seen the disrespect paid by outside observers and is offended.

A Quarterback for Every Quarter

What’s happened to the quarterback room is especially intriguing – maybe even a bit messy, too. When once the roster included only two viable arms (Beagle and Hatcher), Jones has added at least six more to the mix. Check out the massive list:

Layne HatcherIn-ComingRedshirt Jr
Wyatt BeagleCommittedFreshman
Brady MartinRhode IslandSophomore
James BlackmanFlorida StateRedshirt Jr
AJ AycockLSUJunior
Allen WaltersMississippi State
Jack HeveseyLate CommitFreshman
Carson TaumoepeauLate Commit/PWOFreshman

According to the all-knowing Jeff Reed of A-State Nation, all newcomers with the exception of Hevesey is a 3-star prospect, which means everybody is the film room wants to be The Guy. Jones has gone from Castaway to Hunger Games with the QB position, and one wonders who’s first to be converted to a wide receiver or linebacker.

Offensive Line No Longer Offends

As it has for the last several seasons, the offensive line is the source for too many gastrointestinal events for Red Wolves fans. Dr. Butch Jones played the role of antacid to relieve the pain, taking a double scoop from the beef bucket.

Robert HolmesInterior Offensive Lineman6-4/335Austin Peay
Nick LewisOffensive Tackle6-9/348Kentucky
Mehki ButlerOffensive Guard6-4/355Iowa Western

Holmes, Butler and Lewis are three massive beef battleships who will definitely be welcomed on a line that has had too much trouble protecting the quarterback and creating running lanes. Has the O-Line been fixed? Honestly, Arkansas State can always use more offensive lineman. Jones may not be finished here.

Defense Gets Some Help

Last season, the Red Wolves defense ranked 115th in the nation and was the absolute worst in the Sun Belt. If given the opportunity to either watch the defense in action or swallow a bee, I’d take the bee. Apparently, Jones shares my chagrin, and he’s cannonballed into the transfer portal to find some much needed aid.

Thurman GeathersLinebacker6-3/230Louisville
Joseph OzougwuLinebacker6-3/238North Texas
John MinceyDefensive End6-3/276Tennessee
Quay MaysDefensive Lineman6-1/300West Virginia
Kivon BennettLinebacker6-2/248Tennessee
Timothy HardimanDefensive End5-11/265Navy (flip)
Charles WillekesLinebacker6-1/225Michigan State
Scooby CarterCornerback 6-0/200MS Gulf Coast C.C. (by way of ‘Bama)

Offensive transfers tend to receive star billing over defensive transfers, but this is quite a haul for Jones and new defensive coordinator Rob Harley. Jones was especially hungry for linebackers, probably because he reviewed last year’s film and was horrified. Look for those guys to have an immediate impact, making us forget about losing Justin Rice.

UPDATE: Butch Jones just added former Alabama corner and 4-star prospect Scooby Carter to the huddle. The talent is undeniable, but Scooby comes with baggage.

Offense Recruits and Reloads

Keith Heckendorf returns to helm the A-State offense, and he’s got some fancy new weapons at his disposal. Losing Logan Bonner and Brandon Bowling wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a catastrophe either. The additions made are quite enticing to say the least.

Alan LamarRunning Back5-9/202Yale
Tevailance HuntWide Receiver6-3/200TCU
Khyheem WaleedWide Reciver6-0/199Boise State
Akeem HayesWide Reciever5-8/165Kentucky
Adam JonesWide ReceiverTennessee
Johnnie LangRunning Back 5-8/193Iowa

The wide receiving squad will have plenty of talent in 2021, with these guys joining Jeff Foreman and Corey Rucker (and heck, who knows, maybe even Dahu Green) in giving opposing secondaries nightmares. Hunt is especially intimidating at wide out, so whoever emerges from that quarterback room the starter, he’ll have plenty of options.

UPDATE: Butch Jones adds Iowa RB Jonnie Lang to the offense, a three-star talent who has a path to reps.

PHOTO CREDIT: It’s mine, okay. Leave it alone.