FAYETTEVILLE – A potential future Arkansas midfielder gives the Razorbacks high quality defensive shots here and now.

Chris “Pooh” Paul, a freshman from Cordell, Georgia, was the team’s top choice in the second tier after novices and influential players Drew Sanders and Bamber Ball. His playing time has increased in four of Arkansas’ last five games, and he’s taking full advantage.

Paul enters this weekend’s game against Liberty sixth on the team in tackle with 28, including 16 singles stops.

“Pooh is getting better,” Arkansas coach Sam Bateman said Monday. “Once he lets it go (it’ll get even better). In other words, once he understands, ‘I know what I’m doing and I’m going to do it.’ We’ve all been there, playing half a step slowly because you’re going, ‘I think I’m right.'”

“Anyone who plays sports has been this way early on. I think he would be a really good player.”

Paul’s stats and Pro Football Focus numbers indicate that in some ways he really is. He had a passing dash score of 87.0, boosted by 93.3 marks against South Carolina and 70.2 last Saturday at Auburn.

Paul has missed only three attempts this season, and two since the season opener against Cincinnati. His tackle score is the fourth best among the Razorbacks’ defenders who have played over 100 shots.

Against the Tigers, Paul finished with 5 tackles, 1 bag and 1 quarterback in a hurry. This was his second full sack of the season in 22 quick snapshots, according to the PFF.

“I said while watching the tape on Boo Case that there would be a lot of difference in the SEC to get him out of that play because he was so resilient and fast and aggressive on the hit,” Pittman said. “He left a lot of those in his career for us.

“The more he plays, the better he will be.”

Paul and Sanders lead the Arkansas quarterback with 72 and 65 tackles, respectively. Paul’s appearance provided the Razorbacks with a sense of relief when taking any of the novices off the field.

Paul played more shots in Auburn (35) than Paul (32), who has struggled with a thigh injury this season. Pittman noted that Arkansas made a push this week to reduce Paul’s reps when possible to conserve his body for schedule stretches.

Paul is more than ready and waiting for his chance to make an impact. He has 4 games with 5 tackles this season, 4 tackles for a loss and a mandatory tripping as well.

“You have many players who can be on the field, and many players who can start,” Sanders said on Tuesday. “If you have someone who needs a break, you can throw someone at home and not have to worry about dropping off.

“Pooh is constantly getting better, he keeps pushing us all and keeps pushing him. It’s a great system that we started.”

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