John Calipari discusses the new approach Arkansas is taking to build their basketball roster.

“Now, when people mention walk-ons, it’s a different era. For me, a walk-on will receive a full scholarship, like in the old days. He’ll need to work his way into the NIL, but I’ll still play the best players. We haven’t really started on filling those remaining two or three positions yet

Arkansas basketball head coach John Calipari elaborated on his new roster building strategy during the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon.

Currently, the Razorbacks have eight scholarship players for next season, with the possibility of adding five more if Calipari decides to use the full allotment of scholarships. According to Calipari, the approach to filling these spots is different from anything he has done before.

“It was hard because I had no players. I want you to understand what I said. There was no team, and we’re at eight right now,” Calipari said. “I’m ecstatic. I’m looking for one more guy, and that’s what we’re going to have.”

When people think about the Detroit Lions’ pass rush, Aidan Hutchinson often comes to mind while others are overlooked. This is understandable given that Hutchinson generated 121 pressures last year according to PFF, while the next closest Lions defender, Alim McNeill, had 43.


However, the Lions were without one of their more dynamic pass rushers for most of the season. James Houston, who recorded 8.0 sacks in just seven games during his rookie season, played only two games in 2023 due to an early-season ankle fracture.

However, Lions scout Patrick Mularkey believes Houston is primed to come back in 2024 and make another big impact for Detroit’s defense.

“He’s back healthy now, and I think he’s going to be a really good partner in crime with Aidan Hutchinson coming off the edge there,” Mularkey said on the Swartz Talkin’ Sports podcast last week.

Mularkey, who has been within the Lions’ personnel department since 2014 and is currently the team’s “southwest” area scout, called Houston the best player he has “picked” when prompted by a viewer question.

That was a kind of guy that went under the radar,” Mularkey said. “Not a lot of teams knew about (him) or had a lot of love for (him). I kinda put my name on him. I put my stamp on him. We took him, and he, as a rookie—and we kinda thought of him as a developmental guy. A guy that had traits, but it was going to take a couple years to really get going. But the guy came on the scene.”

Houston was selected in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft from Jackson State, an HBCU. In his final college season, he transitioned from off-ball linebacker to edge defender and was highly effective, recording 16.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles.


The Lions could benefit greatly from even a portion of that production from Houston. Despite Hutchinson’s impressive performance last year, the Lions ranked just 23rd in sacks.


Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn recently stated that the expectations are for Houston not only to show the potential he did in his rookie season but to build upon it.

We expect him to come out and—I don’t want to say be the James Houston of the old—but be the James Houston that we know that’s actually going to take another step,” Glenn said.

That likely includes becoming a more well-rounded player. Houston’s athletic skills as a pass rusher are undeniable, but the young defensive lineman will be pushed to also improve as a run defender and learn to set the edge—which could be a challenge for a 6-foot-1, 245 pass rusher.

Houston will also face stiffer competition this year. Not only will 2022 second-round pick Josh Paschal will be another year experienced, but Detroit signed CFL star Mathieu Betts and former first-round pick Marcus Davenport in free agency.

Still, it would be tough to ignore just how disruptive Houston was in 2022. And considering all the resources the Lions used to improve their secondary this year, it’s reasonable to think that Houston could break out again this season.

I highly recommend watching the full interview with Mularkey. He offers valuable insights into the life of an area scout, shares firsthand experiences on why he believes this front office is exceptional, and discusses why he is particularly impressed with Lions rookie defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo.

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