Hurt knee side­lines RB/WR

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL/RECRUITING - By Tom Mur­phy and Bob Holt

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas Ra­zor­backs sopho­more re­ceiver T.J. Ham­monds suf­fered a knee in­jury Tues­day and is ex­pected to miss the rest of train­ing camp, a source with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion said Wed­nes­day.

Ham­monds, who has been run­ning with the first team at slot re­ceiver and do­ing spot duty in the tail­back ro­ta­tion, suf­fered an in­jury sim­i­lar to the torn menis­cus he had last sum­mer that re­quired surgery. He is ex­pected to miss about four weeks, the source said.

That time frame could have Ham­monds back close to the sea­son opener against Florida A&M on Aug. 31.

A 5-10, 195-pounder from Joe T. Robin­son High School in Lit­tle Rock, Ham­monds was off to a good start in camp, ac­cord­ing to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dan Enos and po­si­tion coaches Michael Smith and Reg­gie Mitchell.

“T.J.’s done some re­ally good things,” Smith said Tues­day prior to prac­tice. “You know we’re us­ing him at both po­si­tions, but he’s mostly with me and he’s do­ing some re­ally, re­ally good things.”

Ham­monds earned spot duty as a true fresh­man in 2016, with 15 car­ries for 88 yards and 1 touch­down be­hind Rawleigh Wil­liams, Devwah Wha­ley and Kody Walker in the tail­back ro­ta­tion. He moved to re­ceiver in the spring, but Wil­liams’ re­tire­ment from foot­ball with a neck in­jury got him back in the tail­back con­ver­sa­tion.

Richard­son ready

Sopho­more line­backer Gabe Richard­son had fun in his first meet­ing with the me­dia Wed­nes­day evening.

Richard­son, a trans­fer who played in a 3-4 de­fen­sive scheme at Hutchinson (Kan.) Com­mu­nity Col­lege, sounded con­fi­dent he could help quickly this sea­son.

“Im­me­di­ately, im­me­di­ately,” Richard­son said when asked how soon he could con­trib­ute to the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

“I’m com­ing with my hat. I’m bring­ing it. All year long.”

Richard­son drew laughs from re­porters when he talked about the out­side line­backer po­si­tion group eat­ing out Tues­day with po­si­tion coach Chad Walker at Shogun. Richard­son noted that Walker was keep­ing a close eye on what the play­ers ate.

“But I said, ‘Coach, I’m go­ing to chow down to­day,’” Richard­son said. “If we’re go­ing to eat on the field, we’re go­ing to have to eat in Shogun too.”

Asked if the team at Hutchinson was taken to fancy restau­rants, Richard­son said, “Not re­ally. You’d be eat­ing the burger some­body else didn’t eat two days later and you wouldn’t even know.”

Richard­son, who is run­ning sec­ond team at the “Hog” po­si­tion, was adamant the Ra­zor­backs would turn around their por­ous run de­fense from 2016.

“Ev­ery­one is buy­ing in,” he said. “We’ve been in meet­ings and go­ing hard.

“With this 3-4 de­fense, we’re go­ing to make a lot of plays. We’re go­ing to make sure we stuff the run and we’re go­ing to play sound with the pass.”

Ju­nior out­side line­backer Randy Ramsey said Richard­son would be great when he got the tech­nique down.

“Since the first day in pads he’s been real phys­i­cal,” Ramsey said.

Bi­jhon bet­ter

De­fen­sive tackle Bi­jhon Jack­son said his 330 pounds feel bet­ter on him now than ever be­fore.

“This is the best I’ve ever felt for the first few days of prac­tice,” Jack­son said. “I’ve been fly­ing around. My con­di­tion is get­ting bet­ter every day. I feel good about where I am.”

Jack­son and fel­low se­nior Frank Rag­now, a pre­sea­son first-team All SEC pick, lock up in prac­tice on a daily ba­sis.

“It’s in­tense,” Jack­son said. “I re­ally love go­ing against Frank. It’s tough, but it’s re­ally go­ing to pay off for me in the end.

“I think Frank is one of the rea­sons that I’ve made so much progress.”

Shape up

Re­ceivers coach Michael Smith said he’d like to see ju­nior col­lege trans­fer Bran­don Martin drop some weight to pre­pare for the sea­son.

“I’ve got to keep bring­ing Bran­don along,” Smith said on Tues­day. “I don’t think he’s where he needs to be yet, but it’s only his 18th prac­tice. I’m not mak­ing ex­cuses for him. I just have some high ex­pec­ta­tions for him, and I know he’ll come around and get it done for me.

Martin, rated the No. 1 ju­nior col­lege wide re­ceiver prospect in the coun­try by ESPN, ac­knowl­edged this sum­mer that he had to stay on top of his weight af­ter get­ting up to 228 pounds dur­ing the win­ter. The 6-4 stand­out was down to 219 pounds mid­way through sum­mer and would like to play at around 215.

“I’d like to see him be in bet­ter shape,” Smith said. “I had a con­cern with his weight over the sum­mer. But you know he’s work­ing on that, try­ing to get that down. I also want him to know the play­book. He had a whole sum­mer, and I don’t feel he’s where he needs to be. But again, that’s my job to get him ready.”

Pat­ton tweak

Ju­nior col­lege tight end Jeremy Pat­ton stayed down on the grass for a few sec­onds on the first play of a team pe­riod dur­ing de­vel­op­ment work late in prac­tice.

Pat­ton was able to re­turn to the prac­tice a few snaps later but walked gin­gerly off the field to­ward the end of the work­out.

“It’s just a hip flexor,” Pat­ton said. “Noth­ing too ma­jor. I’ll get it re­habbed and be back on it to­mor­row.”

Adding on

Sopho­more de­fen­sive end T.J. Smith, who is work­ing as a starter, said he’s at 298 pounds af­ter be­ing 283 in the spring.

Smith said most of the weight he added was strength in his legs.

Steele on Hogs

Phil Steele, who for the 23rd con­sec­u­tive year has pub­lished a com­pre­hen­sive col­lege foot­ball pre­sea­son mag­a­zine, said Wed­nes­day that he ex­pects Arkansas to fin­ish in the mid­dle of the SEC West and play in a bowl game in Bret Bielema’s fifth year.

“I think they’re an un­der-the-radar team,” Steele said af­ter speak­ing at a North­west Arkansas Touch­down Club event in Fayetteville. “I like their size up front on de­fense. I love the of­fen­sive line. I per­son­ally am fore­cast­ing a six or seven-win sea­son, but Coach Bielema usu­ally gets a game or two that I’m not ex­pect­ing him to.”

Arkansas plays TCU on Sept. 9 in Fayetteville.

“I’m rat­ing that game a toss-up be­cause Arkansas gets the game at home,” Steele said. “I like TCU a lot this year.”

Steele said he be­lieves TCU se­nior quar­ter­back Kenny Hill will be much im­proved and the Horned Frogs will be strong on de­fense.

“Very dan­ger­ous game for Arkansas be­cause TCU is the more veteran team early in the sea­son,” Steele said.

Arkansas has lost five con­sec­u­tive games to Texas A&M.

“It bet­ter be,” Steele said with a laugh when asked if this is the sea­son the Ra­zor­backs beat the Ag­gies. “I think if they’re go­ing to get them, they’re go­ing to get them this year.”

Steele said his four picks to make the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off are Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Poll ahead

The USA To­day coaches pre­sea­son poll will be re­leased at 11 a.m. to­day.

Bret Bielema is one of 65 coaches who vote in the poll. Other SEC coaches who vote are Alabama’s Nick Sa­ban, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Ken­tucky’s Mark Stoops, Mis­sis­sippi State’s Dan Mullen, Mis­souri’s Barry Odom and Van­der­bilt’s Derek Ma­son.

Florida In­ter­na­tional Coach Butch Davis, a Spring­dale na­tive and for­mer Arkansas player, also votes.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

Arkansas sopho­more T.J. Ham­monds is ex­pected to miss the re­main­der of fall camp af­ter suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury Tues­day. Ham­monds was off to a good start in camp, ac­cord­ing to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dan Enos and po­si­tion coaches Michael Smith and Reg­gie Mitchell.

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