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Will the group act now that Landon Jackson has tendered his resignation? Can he be fired?

Ark. — Spring practice represents an opportunity to officially turn the page, and that’s an exciting proposition for the Arkansas football program.

The Razorbacks went 4-8 in 2023 in one of the most disappointing seasons for any team across the SEC, and the country. The chance to focus on the present and forget the past officially arrives Thursday with the first workout of a new campaign.

Defensive end Landon Jackson is ready for the fresh start, but he knows the sting of last fall must be felt. It provides motivation, and it’s a big reason why Jackson decided to return to Arkansas for his senior season.

“I just wanted to finish my college career off a lot better than this past season,” Jackson said in an interview with the Southwest Times Record prior to spring practice.

Four wins was not acceptable. At all.”

Jackson admits he was undecided about his future after Arkansas’ 48-14 loss to Missouri that put a bow on the season. He was a lock to be selected in the NFL Draft, and the letdown of the 2023 season took a toll.

But after multiple discussions with family and friends, Jackson announced his intention to return to Fayetteville on Dec. 7. He now gets one more year to make amends before living out another dream of playing in the NFL, and what a boost that is for head coach Sam Pittman.

“The more kids you have like that wanting to come back, and they get into the mold of ‘we have something to prove.’ Last year was not indicative of what the years before were,” Pittman said.

“I think the more you get around guys that way, it’ll help your team. Obviously with him being a team captain and coming back, I think it was a big deal.”

The 6-foot-7, 282-pound lineman is the North Star of the Arkansas roster. He was one of two Razorbacks to be an All-SEC selection in 2023, with the other being punter max Fletcher. Jackson was named a way-too-early preseason All-American for 2024 by ESPN, and he represents one of the few upperclassmen who projects as an early-round NFL Draft pick.

WalterFootball.com currently ranks Jackson as the fourth-best defensive end prospect in the 2025 class. Last fall was his breakout campaign, as Jackson racked up career highs in sacks (6.5) tackles for loss (13.5) and tackles (44).

His signature game came on the road against Alabama. Jackson was a pass-rushing menace inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, torching the Crimson Tide’s offensive line for 3.5 sacks and 11 total tackles. He caused havoc even when he wasn’t able to get to the quarterback.

But that performance didn’t come as a surprise to Jackson.

“I knew that game would come,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be right at that moment. I knew it was going to take time, and it finally came. It boosted my confidence throughout the rest of the season, and going into this year, it has me setting the goal to have multiple games like that.

Jackson believes his supporting cast will help create more sacks in 2024. Arkansas lost Trajan Jeffcoat, but the Hogs returned Cameron Ball, Eric Gregory and Nico Davillier. The Hogs also signed Anton Juncaj out of the transfer portal, with Juncaj coming off a 15-sack season with Albany.

In addition to being more productive, Jackson wants to develop counters on his pass-rush and play with lower pad level. Those were two focal points from the NFL Draft feedback he received.

Playing himself into a first-round pick is obviously a goal, but Jackson is adamant he needs to make things right at Arkansas, too.

The Texarkana, Texas native grew up with an affinity for the Razorbacks. He loves playing for defensive line coach Deke Adams and he’s grateful for the opportunity Pittman provided after he transferred from LSU.

In return, he’s ready for one last ride before starting his own chapter.

“It’s been a blessing to play here,” Jackson said. “I’ve put in so much work here, and it’s paid off. I love the fan base. I love the university. Everybody is a big Hog fan. I love being a hog, and without any of that, I might not have come back this year.”

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