Who's the best late bloomer?

Too often, if a young Razorback player does not play and play well early in his career, some assume that player was overrated, or untalented. Over the history of Arkansas football, not everybody who started slowly finished that way.

Can you think of players who were lightly regarded for multiple years, then emerged in later years as important starters?

Here are some:

LB Jerry Franklin - second team all-SEC 2010-11
S Tramain Thomas - second team all-SEC 2010
OT Nate Garner - second team all-SEC 2007
C Kyle Roper - second team all-SEC 2005
LB Jermaine Petty - first team all-SEC 2001
DB Zac Painter - first team all-SEC 1998

I would not place Brandon Burlsworth in this category, because he earned a scholarship after his redshirt season and was on the depth chart as a redshirt freshman.

I’ve been trying to come up with some SWC-era late bloomers, but my memory fails me.

I would put Mitch Smothers in that category. He was really good as a senior. There was talk of Frank Ragnow beating him out as a junior and he did split time with Mitch during that season. Mitch just kept getting better and better. Bielema thought he was a very good player at the end of the season last year.

Someone like Odis Loyd – captain in 1988 – might fit this category. Greg Lasker played early, but he was much better as a senior in 1985. Tyrone Chatman emerged as a very good player in 1993, in Danny Ford’s first season. Richard (Donut) Richardson was lightly regarded but played very well late in his career. In case you are wondering where I got these names, I just went through the list of captains in the year-by-year section of the media guide.

Tevin Mitchell comes to mind quickly since we could really use him this year. He may not be a late bloomer since he was a 4* recruit but he did not do much until his senior year and he played terrific all of that season.

Interesting that you tease me about worthy topics (high humidity vs dehydration in Ft Worth) and you come up with this off the wall topic. It’s fine that you did, it’s just funny that you opened your mouth about mine.

Drew Morgan…He didn’t do much of anything his first two years and last year was one of the best receivers in the SEC and the NCAA. This year he continues to show what he can do.

He is NFL bound. Good hands and a very good runner after the catch. He finds the open area very well. A leader and tough as nails and a great competitor. I wish we had 21 other guys just like him.

George Wilson

I offer Bobby Burnett for consideration. Didn’t play until his junior year on the hill, when he backed up Jackie Brasuell at TB in 1964. As a senior, Burnett blossomed into a workhouse all-SWC tailback (gained around 900 yards rushing on a couple of hundred carries with NO fumbles), then went on to become AFL Rookie of the Year in 1966 with the Buffalo Bills.

In my mind I think Jamal Anderson when I think of a late bloomer.

For recent years, this is my answer.

I would not include Jerry Franklin. He was one of the team’s top tacklers for four seasons. Now, he was best as a senior, but he was valuable from the day he got on the field as a freshman.

Wasn’t he the leading tackler for all 4 years?

Started in JC. Went to U of A as junior and pretty much stunk. Then became arguably the surest tackler I’ve every seen on The Hill. Now an NFL player.