Bobby Petrino may have his sights set on developing a freshman quarterback as his latest project for the upcoming fall season.

Not many are anticipating that freshman left-hander KJ Jackson will step in as Arkansas’ starting quarterback come August in Little Rock. It’s clear that role belongs to Taylen Green after spring practice, as he has predominantly taken the first-team reps and emerged as the team leader.

This situation brings back memories of 2020 when KJ Jefferson was earmarked for the future and spent a season learning behind senior transfer Felipe Franks. Jefferson, former offensive coordinator Kendall Briles’ developmental quarterback, saw significant payoff in the 2021 season with nine wins and a victory in the Outback Bowl.

One can’t help but wonder if Jackson fits a similar developmental role for new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino this year. Petrino, having previously coached Lamar Jackson at Louisville, started him in the first game of the season against Auburn. Although the future Heisman winner only started eight games that year, he was the MVP of the Music City Bowl.

While the Razorbacks’ Jackson may possess untapped potential, he doesn’t immediately evoke Heisman aspirations. He stands to learn a great deal from Green, who can offer guidance both on and off the field. Petrino will handle the classroom instruction, including film study and defensive analysis.

Malachi Singleton also fits a similar role, but Jackson, taller and with a strong arm demonstrated during spring practice, may have the edge. Singleton received extensive coaching from Petrino during spring drills, a practice extended to nearly all players. Singleton might be the first backup if Green encounters any issues.

However, fans should keep an eye on another KJ who generated excitement over three years but didn’t win many games as a starter. His bruising running style endeared him to fans but may have limited his effectiveness later in seasons.

Now, Petrino has an experienced hand to lead the offense this year. Jackson’s raw talent is evident, but throwing a freshman into SEC defenses may be asking too much for immediate big results. Singleton has some experience but hasn’t seen much game time and is likely the next option after Green.

The bigger question is how the offense will gel. While the quarterbacks show promise, there’s uncertainty at tight end and a need for a go-to wide receiver. The hope is for a much-improved offensive line, though this hasn’t been tested in high-stakes games yet.

These answers will only become clear in September. The defense, which fans have high hopes for, takes a backseat for now. As seen in the NFL Draft, prioritizing offensive talent is crucial in today’s game, where scoring points is paramount.

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