Arkansas WRs Adams, Wright closing in on records
Jarius Wright and Joe Adams insist they haven’t talked about ”it.”
That being said, the Arkansas wide receiving duo is well aware of their place in the Razorbacks’ record book – and that they’re both about to break the school record for career receptions.
The fun part is seeing who can get there first – while continuing to focus on winning this week when No. 8 Arkansas (8-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) hosts Tennessee (4-5, 0-5).
”It’s still kind of competitive, knowing that you and him at the end of the year could be the leader,” Wright said. ”Me and him are competing in a way, even though we really don’t pay much attention to it. But in a way we’re still competing for the position.”
With a combined 301 career receptions, Adams (151) and Wright (150) have steadily climbed up the school’s all-time list.
Adams enters the game against the Volunteers just two catches away from Anthony Eubanks school record of 153 catches, while Wright is three behind. Wright has 2,629 career receiving yards and is also closing in on Anthony Lucas’ record of 2,879.
The duo were a part of Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino’s first recruiting class and each have played significant roles for the Razorbacks since they were freshmen.
”They’ve had great careers,” Petrino said. ”One of the ways the offense works is each guy has their week, has their game. They step up and make big plays. You see that all the time. You see that with Joe. You see that with Jarius.
”The thing that I’m so proud of them this year is how well they’ve done on the sideline with their competitive spirit, their leadership and bringing out the best in everybody else.”
Adams had the bigger impact of the two for the Razorbacks as a freshman, finishing third on the team with 31 catches for 377 yards. As his career has progressed, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound receiver has become one of the most explosive weapons in the country – as a receiver, punt returner and occasionally a running back, such as his 92-yard touchdown run against Auburn this year.
Adams initially was committed to Southern California out of high school in Little Rock, Ark. One of the reasons he changed his mind and stayed home was Petrino’s hiring at Arkansas.
Another was the friendships he had formed with several other in-state players who were headed to play for the Razorbacks, one of those being Wright, a native of Warren, Ark.
Looking back now, Adams is certain he made the right decision.
”It means a lot,” Adams said. ”That was one of the guys I chose to come here with. We talked about it in high school. He’s a great friend and after the last game I’m going to miss him.”
Wright was always a factor during his first three seasons with the Razorbacks, but his true time in the spotlight has come this season. The 5-10, 180-pound Wright leads the SEC in receiving yards per game (101.5) and receptions per game (6) and has meshed quickly with new quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Wright has the speed to beat defenders deep, but he also has a knack for finding the soft spot in zone defenses – and Wilson has found him time and again this season. His breakout game came against Texas A&M, when Arkansas rallied from a 35-17 halftime deficit to pull out a season-changing 42-38 win.
He finished with a school-record 281 yards receiving in the comeback win, and the Razorbacks haven’t lost since.
”He’s a money guy and when the time comes to step up, you know he’ll step up and get it done,” Arkansas receivers coach Kris Cinkovich said. ”He takes pride in being the guy that does that. And so does Joe.
”A great player is going to make a great play when he gets that opportunity when his team is struggling. You’ve got to be a guy that likes the spotlight in that situation and both those guys do.”
Wilson said he talked with the receivers before the season about the record-breaking possibilities, and he joked about the friendly but unspoken competition now between the two to see who can get there first.
”I said I’m going to throw the first three to Joe and then the next four to Jarius,” Wilson joked. ”I guess Tennessee can get ready for that.”
Wright said both he and Adams are only concerned with Arkansas winning a sixth straight game this week against the Volunteers, who are well aware of the Razorbacks’ playmakers.
”When you throw the football, you’ve got to have all the parts,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. ”That’s what those guys have, playmaking ability and speed. All it takes (is) one time: You play them good and then, pow, touchdown. They have all the parts for a great throwing offense.”
AP Sports Writer Beth Rucker in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.