Hogs in bet­ter con­di­tion head­ing into fall

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYETTEVIL­LE Sec­ond-year strength coach Tru­main Car­roll didn’t just round up the usual sus­pects among the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs en­hanc­ing their strength, speed and stamina over the sum­mer.

He touted some who have been Hogs for a while but not tra­di­tion­ally men­tioned among the con­di­tioned elite.

With Coach Chad Morris’ Ra­zor­backs be­gin­ning their foot­ball pre­sea­son prac­tices Fri­day, strength coach Car­roll ad­dressed the en­tire me­dia be­fore Morris’ assistants talked in­di­vid­u­ally with me­dia dur­ing Mon­day’s late morn­ing and early af­ter­noon be­fore the coaches and some of the me­dia golfed at the Par­adise Valley Club.

Team-wise, Car­roll said the Ra­zor­backs have pro­gressed sig­nif­i­cantly over this time last year in conditioni­ng, strength and speed, a fore­run­ner to a 2-10 de­but for Morris in­her­it­ing a pro­gram that un­der pre­de­ces­sor Bret Bielema had fallen to 4-8 in 2018.

“Hon­estly I feel we’re in a much bet­ter spot this year than we were this time last year,” Car­roll, who as strength coach ac­com­pa­nied Morris from SMU to Arkansas, said Mon­day. “Just phys­i­cally, men­tally. From a team stand­point in guys be­ing a co­he­sive unit. You know all of those pieces are start­ing to jell to­gether now.”

He ex­plained.

“This time last year I wished we had a lot more time to get the team pre­pared be­fore fall camp,” Car­roll said. “As we stand here to­day I’m pretty happy with what we’ve been able to ac­com­plish in the last eight weeks of the sum­mer.”

Se­nior line­backer Scoota Har­ris, last year’s lead­ing SEC tack­ler, ap­par­ently has re­cov­ered from his foot surgery last spring.

“Scoota is mov­ing faster than I’ve ever seen him,” Car­roll said. “From an agility stand­point, he is like … Oh my good­ness … To see his com­pet­i­tive­ness within drill work, it’s fun to watch. The foot’s 100 per­cent back.”

Run­ning back Ra­keem Boyd, last year’s lead­ing rusher, has re­cov­ered from shoul­der surgery also got a Car­roll thumbs up.

So did fresh­man re­ceiver Trey­lon Burks and fresh­man de­fen­sive back Jalen Cat­alon, both com­ing off 2018 surg­eries.

Morris had touted the two in­com­ing fresh­men as com­ers upon sign­ing them.

Now for the sur­prises: Se­nior starter but hereto­fore un­spec­tac­u­lar de­fen­sive tackle T.J. Smith, fourth-year ju­nior re­serve de­fen­sive tackle Jonathan Mar­shall and Chase Har­rell, last year’s grad­u­ate trans­fer from Kansas who made lit­tle im­pact at re­ceiver but moved this last spring to tight end.

“Guys that just stick off the page for me I’ll have to start off with T.J. Smith,” Car­roll said. “He’s trans­formed his body tremen­dously. He’s shed a lot of body fat and looks ex­tremely good right now. He’s feel­ing good. He has a mo­tor that he can go from much longer than he was able to go in the past. An­other guy who re­ally has stood out and jumped off the page is Chase Har­rell. He’s a guy who switched po­si­tions this past off­sea­son and re­ally em­braced it. He chal­lenged him­self nu­tri­tion­ally and chal­lenged him­self in the weight room. He’s added some good size to his (6-4) body. He’s walk­ing around at 251 right now. He looks like an ac­tion fig­ure.”

Mar­shall, (6-3, 299) is “hands down,” the strongest Ra­zor­back, Car­roll said.

“He’s as strong as a hu­man be­ing as I’ve ever been around,” Car­roll said. “He puts up some as­tro­nom­i­cal num­bers on the clean squat and bench press. Hon­estly giv­ing him an accurate gauge of what his true max is, I can’t tell you what that is. Be­cause that kind of weight doesn’t fit on the bars that we have in the weight room.”

Get­ting two-year let­ter­man Mar­shall to con­vert his weight-room strength to foot­ball prow­ess is the “chal­lenge,” un­der­taken by new D-line coach Kenny In­gram.

“You look at his spring from the be­gin­ning of spring to the end of spring, he kept pro­gress­ing,” In­gram said. “We’re def­i­nitely count­ing on him to have a big im­pact.”

The Ra­zor­backs’ best D-line­man, 6-3 se­nior Pre­sea­son ALL-SEC sec­ondteamer Mctelvin “Sosa” Agim, weighed 279 last year play­ing both de­fen­sive end and de­fen­sive tackle.

He now varies from 294 to 296 since moved full­time in­side to D-tackle.

Ex­tra heft is de­sired in­side but does added weight risk de­creas­ing Agim’s dev­as­tat­ingly ex­plo­sive quick­ness?

“Ab­so­lutely not,” Car­roll replied. “He’s still got a 30-inch ver­ti­cal and over a 9-6 broad jump, so his ex­plo­sive­ness is still in­tact. The num­bers he was able to ac­com­plish at 280, he’s still ac­com­plish­ing at 296 and that’s one of the big­gest things that we made, gauge and man­age as strength coaches. To make sure the size that guys add or lose ac­tu­ally ben­e­fits them on the field.”

In­gram con­curs.

“He’s put on the weight in the right way,” In­gram said. “He’s main­tained his ex­plo­sive­ness. I think at his size and po­si­tion those 15 pounds will serve him well. He hasn’t strug­gled with car­ry­ing it.”

CRAVEN WHITLOW/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Arkansas run­ning back Ra­keem Boyd, 5, runs in a game last sea­son. Boyd is ready to go af­ter shoul­der surgery.

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