KJ fall camp

Junior quarterback KJ Jefferson prepares to throw a pass during practice. Jefferson, who will be the starter for the Razorbacks, has radiated confidence and has earned the trust of his teammates and coaches entering the 2021 season.

Junior quarterback KJ Jefferson has earned praise from his coaches and teammates as he continues to show improvement during fall camp after his phenomenal contributions to the Red-White Game in April.

In 2020, Jefferson completed 20 of 41 passing attempts for 295 yards and threw three touchdown passes. He gained 67 yards on 28 rushing attempts and scored two touchdowns on the ground. In the Red-White Game, Jefferson went 6-11 passing and threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

"KJ's doing a great job," sophomore safety Jalen Catalon said on Saturday. "He keeps coming on and being a leader, keeps growing. I think that the offense rides around him. I think the offense moves as KJ moves. I think he's done a great job of realizing that and just making plays, making the right reads.”

The first-year starter threw a 50-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Kendall Catalon during Saturday’s scrimmage. Jefferson said Kendall Catalon is having an excellent preseason camp.

“He has had an awesome camp,” Jefferson said. “As far as teaching the younger guys and making plays downfield. Just being quarterback-friendly. When we break down and scramble out he’s always there to make sure we get the ball out of our hands.”

Some critics have questioned how Jefferson will play on Saturdays. Tight ends coach Dowell Loggains, a former quarterback and holder for Arkansas from 2000-2004, said Jefferson is ready for the responsibility of leadership.

"I’ve seen his confidence start to grow,” Loggains said. “The hard part about being a quarterback sometimes is getting the other 10 guys to do their jobs so you can execute and do yours. We’re excited about where he’s at and he’s gotten better every day. I think he’s naturally transitioning to a bigger leadership role as it happens."

Razorback head coach Sam Pittman named Jefferson the starting quarterback entering fall camp Aug. 8. Jefferson said he is honored to take the helm for the Razorbacks in the season opener in Fayetteville.

“That means a lot just coming back to the Razorback family starting off the season with a great victory, hopefully,” Jefferson said. “Just the atmosphere and bringing the culture back like it used to be.”

As a dual-threat quarterback, Jefferson has the ability to improvise outside the pocket. However, he confessed that running was a challenge for him during the scrimmages because defenders are not allowed to hit quarterbacks during practice.

“It’s kind of hard, but you have to adjust to it,” Jefferson said. “I treat it as adversity knowing we can’t run as much. Just focus on the part where we’re making great decisions with the ball, getting the ball down the field in playmaker’s hands.”

The Razorbacks took a rest day Sunday. The Hogs will regroup Monday and practice through Saturday, when they will hold their second scrimmage of fall camp.

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