- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Arkansas was forced to play a handful of first-year players last season in Bret Bielema's first year on the job, and the Hogs like their nucleus of young talent.
They're up next in our second-year stars series.
Class recap: Bielema's first recruiting class at Arkansas was highlighted by a pair of ESPN 300 gets from South Florida -- running back Alex Collins and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland. The third ESPN 300 prospect in the class was in-state tight end Hunter Henry, who was ranked as the No. 2 tight end in the country. All three earned freshman All-SEC honors and were key contributors. The class was ranked 12th in the SEC and included five four-star prospects.
Second-year star: OT Dan Skipper (6-foot-10, 315 pounds)
Recruiting stock: Skipper was a three-star prospect out of Arvada, Colo., and ranked as the No. 53 offensive tackle prospect nationally.
2013 in review: Skipper played in all 12 games and started the final eight at guard. He was named to several freshman All-America teams and was part of an Arkansas offensive line that produced eight 100-yard rushing performances. Skipper was also a force on special teams and set a school-record with three blocked field goals.
2014 potential: With his towering size, Skipper is better suited to play tackle and will move outside as a sophomore to man the Hogs' left tackle spot. He's coming off an excellent spring, and even though Kirkland was the higher-rated prospect a year ago, Skipper is the one who's been pegged as Arkansas' left tackle of the future. Bielema has a long track record of producing quality offensive linemen, and Skipper has the size, physical tools and temperament to be an All-SEC player before he leaves Arkansas.
Also watch out for: Outside linebacker Martrell Spaight and cornerback Carroll Washington are a pair of second-year junior college players who should make much bigger impacts in 2014. Sophomore Brooks Ellis is a thumper at middle linebacker and started the final four games a year ago. Redshirt freshman safety De'Andre Coley had a big spring that was highlighted by more than a few big hits. He has a chance to emerge as one of the Hogs' starting safeties. Kirkland has settled in at right guard, and Henry returns as one of the top tight ends in the league. And even though the Hogs return both Collins and Jonathan Williams at running back, there's a reason sophomore Korliss Marshall is back at running back full time after previously spending some time on defense. Marshall is the fastest and most explosive running back of the bunch and gives the Hogs a true home-run threat.
3dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf
4dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf