SEC me­dia days re­port Five for the road

Fresh­man works on el­i­gi­bil­ity

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RECRUITING/COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

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.”

Baby, boom!

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.”

Butt, Face

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.”

Best QB

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.”

Cen­ter talk

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.”

Early start

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.”

Count­down

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.

AP/BUTCH DILL

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.

Richard­son

Org­eron

Rag­now

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