Butch Jones visited the butcher and beefed up the trenches
You don’t have to speak to Arkansas State head football coach Butch Jones very long before he will reveal to you the secret to winning football games.
“You gotta be physical at the line of scrimmage,” he says. Traditionally, the Red Wolves have been more about speed and misdirection – even the program’s string of award-winning defensive ends were undersized. The 2023 recruiting class seems to adopted the philosophy that you “can’t coach size,” bringing six large offensive linemen and four defensive linemen to the fold (via transfer and recruiting).
The six newcomer offensive linemen join approximately 15 offensive lineman already on the roster – the bulk of whom were freshman in 2022. Three of the new arrivals hail from Ole Miss – Hamilton Hall (6’5″ 315), Tobias Braun (6’7″, 315), and Jalen Cunningham (6’5″, 300). Suddenly, what was once a paper-thin position has some enviable depth.
Jones Likes the Improvement at Corner
At the post-recruiting press conference, Coach Jones said he felt that the biggest upgrade was made at cornerback, singling out Manny Stokes (Coastal Carolina) and Donte Thompson (Incarnate Word) as two players who brought significant experience to the table. The Red Wolves lost starter Kenneth Harris during the off season to the transfer portal.
Corey Rucker is Back
It was made official on Wednesday: the Red Wolves leading wide receiver in 2021 is back after having spent a season with South Carolina. “When he called asking to come back, it was a no brainer,” said Coach Jones. Corey Rucker collected 14 touchdown receptions in his two seasons with Arkansas State. Jones credited the specialness of Jonesboro for bringing the star receiver back to campus.
The Red Wolves brought in five Natural State recruits, the most in Arkansas (FBS) and the most for A-State since 2011. The highest rated? DeAndra Burns, the wide receiver from El Dorado.
The Wide Receivers Room is Replenished
In addition to Rucker and Burns, five more wide receivers join the roster in 2023, providing some aid to a unit beset with injuries last season. One guy to keep an eye on: Clyde Curry, the 6’2″ freshman from Alabama and the highest rated recruit in the 2023 A-State class.
Combined with November’s haul, the Red Wolves still rank #1 in the recruiting battle, per 24/7 Sports.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mine