Starting left offensive tackle Myron Cunningham explained why he is one of six 2020 Arkansas Razorbacks football seniors announcing they will return as seniors in 2021.

Because covid-19 concerns disrupted and altered the entire 2020 fall sports season, the NCAA granted 2020 fall sports seniors 2021 senior athletic eligibility.

“The feedback I got from NFL was probably like mid-to-late draft,” Cunningham said Monday as the Razorbacks prepared for their Texas Bowl game vs. TCU cancelled Tuesday afternoon because of too many covid-19 positive tests among TCU’s Horned Frogs. “So I just felt like it’s in my best interest to come back and try to increase my draft stock next year.”

Given the improvement and size gained under Coach Sam Pittman, offensive line coach Brad Davis and strength coach Jamil Walker over last year’s Chad Morris staff, Cunningham should keep improving his NFL draft stock as a Hog.

Cunningham’s 6-7 frame bulked from 285 last year to 325 throwing his weight around as a second-year junior college transfer.

“Obviously I put on this weight and just another year showing them I can move well and fluid with it,” Cunningham said. “Another thing I think that Pitt and Coach Davis can help me with is just knowledge of the game. This year they came the whole O-line, not just me, more than we’ve learned in the past and I think it has just been a great aspect to us.”

Cunningham was asked what it says for the staff that at least six seniors are returning and that graduate transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks, still expected to turn pro, is playing for the Hogs in Thursday’s Texas Bowl game against TCU of the Big 12 rather than opting out and not risking a pre draft injury.

“I think it just says the culture we’ve started to build here is a good one,” Cunningham said. “The fact everyone is deciding to come back is just a positive aspect and it’s showing.”

What about Franks playing in Thursday’s game?

“I think it says a lot” Cunningham said. “He could have opted out and liked just prepared for the draft and everything. I think it says a lot about his leadership and his want to. He wants to be here and wants to play with us and finish the season the right way.”

The Razorbacks practiced and added player for the since cancelled bowl game. Reeceiver Jaquayln Crawford became bowl eligible after the finish of the fall semester.

Cunningham likens Crawford to receiver De’Vion Warren, among the 2020 seniors returning along with Cunningham, linebacker Grant Morgan, offensive guard Ty Clary, tight end Blake Kern and running back T.J. Hammonds.

“I’ve seen him a little bit here and there at practice,” Cunningham said. “He’s just like De’Vion kinda in his own way. He’s very quick. He has got a lot of speed to him. He’s like one of those smaller receivers that just has that quickness to him.”

Cunningham was asked Monday about a point now moot.’

What would it mean to these Hogs, SEC winless in 2018 and 2019 under Morris but 3-7 in all SEC games under Pittman with the 30-28 game against Auburn to finish beating a 6-4 TCU?

““It would mean a lot” Cunningham said. “We’re 3-7 right now, so for us to go out and win a game against TCU, who’s a good football team, would just show the progress that we’ve made throughout the season and that we’re moving in the right direction.”

If nothing else, the Razorbacks at least got the extra bowl practices they didn’t have these last two years.

Dorian Gerald

Originally a 2018 junior college transfer, defensive end Dorian Gerald will spend four years at the University of and the Arkansas Razorbacks declaring he will return for the extra football year granted by the NCAA to 2020 seniors because of the season’s covid-19 disruptions, postponements and cancellations.

“See y’all in 2021,” Gerald posted on his Twitter account Tuesday evening with a WPS signifying Woo, Pig, Sooie.

A native of Florence, S.C. Gerald transferred to former Coach Chad Morris’ Razorbacks in 2018 after starring two years at College of the Canyons Junior College.

Gerald played eight games for the 2-10 Hogs in 2018, starting the last two. He made 21 tackles, eight solo, with 2.5 TFL for 13 yards, broke up two passes and was credited with two quarterback hurries.

Gerald started the 2019 season opener against Eastern Illinois and suffered a serious and rare injury, a bruised neck artery.

The season-ending injury enabled Gerald to be granted a hardship second senior year for new Coach Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks in 2020.

Injuries again dogged Gerald in 2020. He his health allowed him to play six games for the 3-7 Hogs making five tackles, one for lost yardage, and was credited with a quarterback hurry.

Gerald becomes the Razorbacks’ seventh senior announcing his return.

Previously linebacker Grant Morgan, offensive tackle Myron Cunningham, offensive guard Ty Clary, tight end Blake Kern, running back T.J. Hammonds and receiver De’Vion Warren announced they would return as 2020 seniors to be seniors again in 2021.

Gerald and the Razorbacks were to play in Thursday night’s Texas Bowl game in Houston against TCU until learning Tuesday afternoon the game has been canceled because too many TCU players tested covid-19 positive or were too closely contact traced with others afflicted by covid.

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