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Chad Morris’ four-star QB son decommits from Arkansas

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Talk about your awkward moments around the holidays if this one had played out any other way.

In June of this year, Chandler Morris, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the Class of 2020, verbally committed to playing his college football at Arkansas.  If the last name sounds familiar in relation to UA it should as Morris’ father, Chad Morris, was the Razorbacks’ head football coach.

The keyword there is “was,” of course, as the elder Morris was fired by the university shortly after an embarrassing loss to Western Kentucky this past Saturday.

In the wake of that dismissal, and as is ofttimes the case, a handful of high school football prospects who had committed to Morris and the Razorbacks went public with their decisions to decommit.  One of those, not surprisingly, was Chandler Morris, who took to Twitter Tuesday evening to confirm that he will be “reopening my recruitment at this time.”

The younger Morris is a four-star 2020 prospect, rated as the No. 13 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  In addition to UA, Morris held offers from, among others, Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.

Arkansas fires head coach Chad Morris

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Losing to both a Conference USA and a Mountain West team at home is going to make life difficult for any Power Five head coach and it appears that was the final straw that Arkansas needed to judge the tenure of the head coach.

The Razorbacks fired Chad Morris on Sunday after just 22 games in charge of the program following a blowout loss to Western Kentucky. KFSM was the first to report the firing.

“As part of my continued evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is necessary to move our football program forward and position it for success,” athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a release. “It is clear that we have not made the progress necessary to compete and win, especially within the Southeastern Conference. Throughout our history in football, as well as with our other sport programs, we have demonstrated that the University of Arkansas is capable of being nationally competitive. I have no doubt that as we move forward, we will identify a head coach that will help lead our program to that benchmark.

“I want to express my personal and professional regard to Coach Morris and thank him for his investment in the lives of our student-athletes.”

Morris departs with a 4-18 overall record, which includes going winless in SEC play during his two years as head coach. When including his tenure leading SMU, the former Clemson offensive coordinator is just 18-40 overall as a head coach with just one winning season.

The Texas native was expected to be a breath of fresh air for the program who could bring a spread offense to town and reenergize recruiting links to the Lone Star State that had faded away under previous coach Bret Bielema. However he and his staff never seemed to be able to get things together between the lines, generally becoming uncompetitive in league play and losing to the likes of North Texas, WKU and Colorado State didn’t help matters one bit.

Morris is expected to receive a buyout just over $10 million as a result of his firing, which might have been made easier for the school to swallow after they stopped paying Bielema’s own large buyout earlier this year as part of some legal wrangling. Former Razorback quarterback and tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. will serve as the interim head football coach for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Yurachek, who was hired after Morris in December of 2017, is expected to conduct a quick search and will undoubtedly focus on somebody with ties to the state like Memphis head coach Mike Norvell or perhaps somebody along the lines of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Billy Napier. While the job is an SEC gig, its placement in the West division with heavyweights like LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M make life difficult on a yearly basis in league play but it wasn’t long ago at all that Bobby Petrino was winning double-digit games in Fayetteville and earning a top 25 ranking.

Either way, the writing was on the wall this weekend after the team lost to another Group of Five opponent and the end result was a parting of ways with Morris that nearly everybody saw coming at some point.

Chad Morris’ seat scorching as Arkansas’ blown out by Western Kentucky

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Willie Taggart may very soon have some less-than-two-and-done coaching company.

During his first season at Arkansas in 2018, Chad Morris‘ 2-10 record was, percentage-wise, the worst in the 125-year history of the football program.  In the 126th season, Morris has the Razorbacks on target to match that low-water mark as UA entered today’s game against Western Kentucky (6-4) at 2-7.

Unfortunately for Morris — or fortunately for those looking to rid themselves of the head coach — he in no way, shape or form helped himself in Week 11 as WKU came into Fayetteville and bullied the overmatched Razorbacks (think about that) in a 45-19 blowout win.  The Hilltoppers held a 35-7 advantage at halftime.  Against an SEC team.  In their own house.

This marks the second-straight year Arkansas has gotten embarrassed by a school from Conference USA, the first being North Texas in a 44-17 win in mid-September of last year.  This is also the fourth-straight game in which the Razorbacks have lost by at least 26 points after their first four losses came by a combined 29 points.

John Stephen Jones, the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and making his first careers start, completed just three of his 10 passes for zero touchdowns and an interception.

Arguably the only positive on the day for Arkansas was running back Rakeem Boyd, who ran for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just eight carries.  Those two scores came from 86 and 76 yards out.

Take away Boyd’s ground outburst, and the rest of his teammates totaled just 155 yards of offense; the visiting Hilltoppers put up 478 — 213 through the air and 265 on the ground.  Over 200 of those yards came off the right arm of Ty Storey, who transferred to WKU this offseason from… Arkansas.

The remaining schedule doesn’t portend well for a mini-turnaround for Arkansas before another lost season comes to an end either as, after a bye next weekend, travels to No. 2 LSU in Week 13 before hosting 5-3 Missouri in the regular-season finale.

WKU, meanwhile, has become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2017 under first-year head coach Tyson Helton.

After suspension, Arkansas TE C.J. O’Grady is no longer a Razorback

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After being suspended for an undisclosed reason, Arkansas tight end C.J. O’Grady has left the program for good. Razorback head coach Chad Morris confirmed on Monday that O’Grady has opted to leave the program after a meeting between the coach, player on Sunday.

Morris gave no reason for why O’Grady was suspended from Arkansas’ home game against Mississippi State over the weekend and simply noted the two planned to meet on Sunday. Confusion about O’Grady’s status arose with cryptic social media updates and profile changes suggesting O’Grady was no longer to be a part of the program. It turns out, that was the endgame, as confirmed on Monday.

“First of all, we met last night and we want to wish C.J. the best,” Morris said, per HawgBeat.com. “We’re here to help him get to where he wants to get to as the next step. We want to wish him the best right now.”

O’Grady was the leading receiver for Arkansas this season with 373 yards on 33 receptions. It has been a tough year for the Razorbacks on the field, however, so O’Grady getting out now may not be a horrible idea. As a fifth-year senior, O’Grady’s college career is now, officially, done.

O’Grady has had some trouble staying in the good graces of both of his Arkansas head coaches, Morris and Brett Bielema, so he will face some questions from any potential NFL franchises looking to scout tight ends for the upcoming draft. In the meantime, O’Grady can not risk his health for the final month of a dreadful season of Arkansas football.

Arkansas offensive lineman retires from football

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Another difficult season for the Razorbacks will have to continue without an injury-riddled offensive lineman for the rest of the season. Senior offensive lineman Colton Jackson has made the decision to step away from football. Jackson announced his decision with a statement posted on his Twitter account on Monday.

“After tough discussions with my parents, doctors and coaches it is in the best interests to announce that I will be stepping away from football,” Jackson said in his statement. “Ever since my back surgery last year I have been pushing myself through pain in order to play the game I love. It’s disappointing when you put in countless hours of training, practice and rehab each week for it to not even come close to being reflected through your performance and on film, and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Jackson was referencing surgery for his injury prior to last season that forced him to miss the first few games of the season.

Arkansas head coach Chad Morris reacted to the latest news involving Jackson and addressed how the Razorbacks will move forward without him. Shane Clenin and Brady Latham, who have been used in rotation on the offensive line, will continue to fill the void by splitting reps for now.