SEC media days report Five for the road
Freshman works on eligibility
HOOVER, Ala. — Heralded Arkansas Razorbacks defensive back signee Montaric “Buster” Brown of Ashdown has work to do this summer to become eligible for the 2017 season, Coach Bret Bielema said Monday.
“Buster is doing a lot of really good things,” Bielema said to local reporters at SEC media days. “He’s working his tail off. There’s a chance he could join us here for fall camp, but if not, we’ll try to get him here by fall semester. And at worst-case scenario, I think he could start with us in January.”
Brown, a safety with a reputation as a hard hitter, was one of the top-rated players in the Razorbacks’ signing class in February.
Junior college defensive end signee Melvin Johnson of Riverside (Calif.) City College won’t be on the roster in the fall.
“Melvin for sure won’t be with us,” Bielema said. “We kind of made that decision with where he was after summer school, after summer. So we got him in a situation that could potentially get him with us in January.”
LSU has five SEC road games because last year Florida agreed to move its rescheduled game against the Tigers from Gainesville, Fla., to Baton Rouge after the teams couldn’t play on the original date because of Hurricane Matthew.
The Tigers are playing at Mississippi State, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Tennessee, and they have home games against Auburn, Arkansas and Texas A&M.
“It is what it is,” LSU Coach Ed Orgeron said. “Here’s what we do at LSU. We take it one day at a time, one game at a time. We know we have a tough schedule, but we don’t look at it that way. We look at it as a chance to compete. When we take our team on the road to go into a hostile environment, we accept the challenge.”
Florida, which won 16-10 at LSU last season, scheduled the Tigers as the Gators’ homecoming opponent. Orgeron was asked whether he took exception to that.
“People are going to do what they’re going to do,” he said. “Florida is a great rivalry for us. We respect them. Any time we got into the Swamp, it’s going to be a battle.”
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Coach Bret Bielema, a father for two days, mentioned how smooth media days were as the leadoff team Monday.
“It’s pretty calm,” he said. “I like going on the front end. I said, of course I’ve got to check with Jen, but I might have a baby every year if it’s this easy.”
Bret Bielema was on a Chipotle run for his wife, Jen, on Saturday, the day their child Briella Nichole was born, when he unintentionally made a FaceTime call to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.
“I had texted congratulations to Bret,” Sankey said. “All of a sudden my phone said he was FaceTiming me. That’s never happened.
“He said, ‘Why are you calling me?’ I said, ‘Why are you calling me?’ I thought he was going to share this moment with his wife and daughter with the conference commissioner.”
Said Bielema: “I was walking down, and I recognized the FaceTime, pulled it out and I see Greg Sankey’s name. I said, ‘This is pretty cool, the commissioner is FaceTiming me. That’s pretty neat.’ He said, ‘Why were you calling me?’ I said, ‘I apologize, I must have butt-dialed you.’ That was a unique experience.”
Greenlaw a go
Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who missed spring practice due to a foot injury, has done well in the recovery process, Coach Bret Bielema said.
“He looks great,” Bielema said. “He’s come back. We constantly are monitoring and looking at what we can do for him to make sure [he’s ready physically], but he should be 100 percent go by fall camp.”
12 days of summer
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey made a snarky reference to the July 10 start of SEC media days, the earliest opening day in league history.
“Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the 12 days between the finale of the College World Series and today, the unofficial kickoff to college football season, what we know as SEC football media days,” Sankey said. “We used to sing ‘12 Days of Christmas.’ We’re working on ‘12 Days of Summer’ as a new song. It does go quickly.”
Arkansas defensive back Kevin Richardson had high praise for Austin Allen when asked about his development at quarterback. “Man, that’s the best quarterback in the country,” Richardson said. “I have no doubt about it. That’s the best guy out here in the country. Everybody talks about that Texas A&M game. He was knocked down time after time, and he kept getting back up.”
Austin Allen didn’t always play quarterback.
As a fourth-grader, he played center, he said Monday when asked about why he’s so tough physically.
“I moved to quarterback in the fifth grade,” Allen said. “I could throw the ball the farthest, so they just let me throw deep.”
Frank Ragnow, the Razorbacks’ starting center, said he didn’t know Allen used to play the position.
“I can definitely see that,” Ragnow said. “I’ve seen some chunky pictures when he was younger, and he was definitely a chunker back then.”
Allen didn’t enjoy playing center.
“I hated it,” he said. “I don’t know how Frank does it. I’d much rather play quarterback than center.”
Ragnow smiled when asked whether he intends to compare notes on playing center with Allen.
“He needs to learn that I do the dirty work for him,” Ragnow sid. “But I think we’ll stick to him being quarterback and me being center. I really don’t want to hear his thoughts on how I should play the position.”
Quarterback Austin Allen, center Frank Ragnow and defensive back Kevin Richardson woke up about 4 a.m. Monday and worked out with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert before traveling to Hoover to represent Arkansas at SEC media days.
It was the second consecutive year Allen has attended media days, but the first time for Ragnow and Richardson.
“You get a lot of questions and it’s a long day, but I’m living the dream,” Ragnow said. “I’ve got hundreds of people wanting to know what I’ve got to say. I flew on a private plane down here. It’s pretty dang cool.”
Richardson, who began his Arkansas career as a walk-on and is now a team captain, said he was honored to be at media days, especially considering the former Razorbacks who have attended. “There are some big names on that list,” Richardson said. “To be one of them now is a huge honor. It’s a dream come true.”
The Razorbacks’ workday didn’t end when they flew home to Fayetteville. Allen said there was a 7-on-7 workout Monday night.
Hoke with Vols
Brady Hoke, the former head coach at Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan, is in his first season as Tennessee’s defensive line coach as one of three Vols assistants with head coaching experience
Offensive coordinator Larry Scott was an interim coach at Miami for six games in 2015. Quarterbacks coach Mike Canales was interim coach at North Texas for a combined 12 games in 2010 and 2015.
“Any time you can have head coaches on your staff, I think it’s extremely healthy,” Tennessee Coach Butch Jones said. “It’s been a great help for me, but it also helps mentor your younger coaches on your staff as well, as we all want coaches on our staff to have the goal of being a head football coach one day.”
The Razorbacks’ appearance at SEC media days came 52 days prior to the kickoff of their season opener on Thursday, Aug. 31, against Florida A&M at War Memorial Stadium.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen got a chance to attend SEC media days for the second consecutive year, but this time he was joined by center Frank Ragnow and defensive back Kevin Richardson.