Rick Fires is a reporter and columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Sategna was swayed by Hogs' turnaround under Pittman
Fayetteville seniors Isaiah Sategna (left) and Mani Powell laugh Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, while posing for photographs during a signing ceremony in the school's cafeteria. Sategna and Powell signed to play football with Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas fans aren’t the only ones impressed with the job Sam Pittman has done in his short time as coach of the Razorbacks.
Recruits are, too.
Arkansas’ improvement from 3-7 a year ago to 8-4 was one of the reasons receiver Isaiah Sategna cited in his decision to sign with the Razorbacks on Wednesday during the first day of the early signing period. Sategna made it official at Fayetteville along with high school teammates Mani Powell, who also signed with the Razorbacks, and Kaiden Turner, who signed with Indiana.
Sategna is a football and track and field athlete who decided on Arkansas after previously being committed first to Texas A&M and later Oregon. He said Pittman’s ability to turn losing teams into one that’ll play in a New Year’s Day Bowl against Penn State grabbed his attention.
“Coach Pittman’s success, he did it in only two years,” Sategna said. “He’s competing with the top teams and we only lost by seven points to Alabama. Alabama is pulling in all of the 5-star recruits and I don’t think we have a 5-star on the team. So, I was very impressed with what they did this year.”
More from WholeHogSports: Full signing day coverage
Arkansas is quite impressed as well with Sategna, who caught 102 passes and scored 17 touchdowns while leading the nation with 1,930 yards receiving. The Razorbacks have a need at wide receiver after Treylon Burks announced he would forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Burks was selected All-SEC after he caught 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Razorbacks.
“Anything that an elite receiver has, he has it,” Fayetteville coach Casey Dick said of Sategna, who took a handoff and went 80 yards for a touchdown on Fayetteville’s first play from scrimmage this season against Conway. “He’s an elite athlete in different sports. He kind of gets upset when people refer to him as a fast kid from Fayetteville High School. He offers a lot more than that. He really does.”
The Razorbacks also address a need at linebacker with the signing of Powell, who moved with his mother from Ohio to Arkansas shortly after committing to the Razorbacks in July. Powell started at linebacker for Fayetteville before suffering a season-ending knee injury four games into the season.
He’ll be given a chance to help fill a huge void at linebacker with Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry all out of eligibility with the Razorbacks. Senior Bumper Pool has another year of eligibility remaining, but has yet to announced whether he will return.
“I’m coming in knowing there are shoes to fill,” Powell said. “That’s going to be my job. …to try and fill the shoes of players like Morgan, Bumper and all those great guys who are leaving.”
Turner was the leading tackler and a team leader for the Bulldogs, who reached the state finals in Class 7A and finished 10-3 overall. A three-year starter, he finished his senior season with 82 tackles, including 8 sacks and a total of 21 tackles for lost yardage.
Turner returned a fumble for a touchdown after scoring a rushing touchdown in a state semifinal game against Conway.
“Indiana is getting a steal by getting KT,” Fayetteville linebackers coach Jeff Bowerman said. “I’ve coached other elite linebackers but he is special. He is exceptionally gifted with athletic talent. What makes him elite is that he’s a natural leader.”
Turner received an offer from Arkansas but chose to stick with Indiana after committing to the Hoosiers last spring. He’s a December graduate who will enroll in January at Indiana, which fell to 2-10 after winning six of eight games during a Covid-19 shortened season in 2020 in the Big Ten.
“I know we’re going to bounce back,” Turner said. “I think we can win the Big Ten in the next three or four years.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.