FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Since being hired at Arkansas Bret Bielema has made a point of not looking too far ahead.
The Razorbacks' coach, however, couldn't resist taking a glimpse into the future earlier this week while discussing a host of talented underclassmen already contributing on offense.
When the Razorbacks (3-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) face No. 18 Florida (3-1, 2-0) on Saturday, they'll likely have as many as six freshmen or sophomores taking part on offense.
From sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen to freshman running back Alex Collins, Arkansas appears in good shape — both now and in the future.
"Those aren't just four or five average players, those are four or five really good players that are sophomores and freshmen," Bielema said. "So, it's fun."
In his first season as the starting quarterback, Allen has thrown for eight touchdowns and 670 yards while missing nearly two games with a shoulder sprain. He set a career high with 282 yards passing in a 45-33 loss to Texas A&M last week, but his return from injury sparked Arkansas to 483 yards of total offense.
Collins, meanwhile, has been nothing short of spectacular in his first season.
The Florida native is second in the SEC in rushing this season, averaging 119.4 yards per game. His 597 yards rushing lead the league, and he's combined with another underclassman running back — sophomore Jonathan Williams — for 1,068 yards rushing and six touchdowns through five games.
Collins waited until the day before national signing day in February to commit to Arkansas, but another talented freshman who has contributed early was Bielema's first commitment. After Bielema's introductory news conference at Arkansas last December, the first person he called was tight end Hunter Henry — something Bielema called "probably the most rewarding phone call I've made since my announcement."