Fresh­men to get op­por­tu­ni­ties

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

FAYET­TEVILLE - The abun­dance of red­shirt fresh­men and even true fresh­men vy­ing for spots on Arkansas’ de­fen­sive 2-deep man­i­fested in ques­tions pep­pered upon Ra­zor­backs de­fen­sive as­sis­tant coaches Ron Cooper, Mark Smith, Steve Cald­well and Kenny In­gram dur­ing their Tues­day post prac­tice me­dia avail­abil­ity.

De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/ lineback­ers coach John Chavis met with me­dia fol­low­ing last Satur­day’s scrim­mage.

So de­fen­sive back­field coaches Cooper and Smith, and de­fen­sive line coaches Cald­well (ends) and In­gram (tack­les) took their turn Tues­day.

Be­fore their ses­sion was through they were var­i­ously asked about true fresh­men nickel back Greg Brooks, safety Jalen Cat­alon, cor­ner­back Devin Bush, de­fen­sive ends Mataio Soli, Eric Gregory, Zach Williams and Collin Clay, and de­fen­sive tack­les Enoch Jack­son, Mar­cus Miller and Tau­rean Carter.

Red­shirt fresh­men draw­ing me­dia in­quiries in­cluded cor­ner­back Ladar­rius Bishop and de­fen­sive tack­les Isa­iah Ni­chols and Nick Ful­wider.

Brooks, a 2018 De­cem­ber high school grad­u­ate able to im­press the Ra­zor­backs staff last spring and the only true fresh­man open­ing the

pre­sea­son on the first team, cur­rently is side­lined with an undis­closed in­jury.

Fresh­man flash pre­sea­son in­ter­cep­tion leader Cat­alon seems a nat­u­ral to join the throng at nickel that for some sit­u­a­tions re­turns cur­rent weak­side line­backer and 2018 nickel D’vone Mcclure to nickel.

Not yet, says Cooper. He doesn’t want to over­load Cat­alon from what he’s learn­ing at safety be­hind Kam Curl and Joe Foucha and top re­turn­ing sopho­more sub Myles Ma­son.

“Tal­ented, still learn­ing,” Cooper said. “You for­get that ev­ery­thing is new to

him. The speed of the game is new. The heat is new. You are ex­pect­ing more than you have ever had to do and it’s chaotic. When you have 80,000 peo­ple in the stands, it isn’t go­ing to be like high school. And you still don’t take that step un­til you get thrown out there. To­day I would say was his nicest prac­tice here.”

Ju­nior 2-year let­ter­man safety Curl, gen­er­ally deemed the quar­ter­back of the de­fense, was in a green cau­tion jersey lim­it­ing his prac­tice Tues­day as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, Cooper said.

Curl’s pres­ence helps even when not ac­tively prac­tic­ing, his coaches say.

“Kam ac­tu­ally an­tic­i­pates and knows the dif­fer­ent

checks that go with ev­ery sin­gle coverage call that we have,” Cooper said. “Even though he’s only a 20-yearold, he’s in his third year and the old one out on the field with the most play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on the back end and knows the cor­rect align­ments of every­body. He is com­mu­ni­cat­ing well and get­ting bet­ter ev­ery day.”

Bush im­pressed last spring, and Bishop last fall red­shirt­ing and again in the spring. Both rank be­hind first-team cor­ners Jar­ques Mcclel­lion and Mon­taric “Buster” Brown, and im­press this pre­sea­son, Smith said Tues­day.

Up front Gregory is out for a while with an­kle surgery but sons of Ra­zor­backs Soli (dad Ju­nior Soli was

an Arkansas D-line­man in the 1990s for Danny

Ford) and Williams (dad Rickey Williams played line­backer in the 1980s for Ken Hat­field) al­ready are im­pact­ing be­hind se­niors Do­rian Ger­ald, Gabe Richard­son and Ja­mario Bell.

“Zach’s go­ing to play a lot,” Cald­well said. “So will Soli. Don’t be sur­prised if you see Collin Clay.”

In­gram cred­its se­nior start­ing tack­les Sosa Agim and T.J. Smith with “in­spir­ing” Miller, Jack­son and Carter through their true fresh­man ups and downs.

“All of them have shown some signs of some good things and all of them have shown they are fresh­men,” In­gram said. “Mar­cus

Miller, he’s do­ing re­ally

well right now and Enoch and Tau­rean, both of them are do­ing well. Tau­rean had a lit­tle shoul­der in­jury but he’s come back fine.”

Ful­wider re­turned Tues­day from re­cent in­juries.

All four coaches ex­pressed gen­eral, but cer­tainly not to­tal, sat­is­fac­tion with last Satur­day’s scrim­mage and an­tic­i­pate bet­ter for this Satur­day’s scrim­mage.

“Things we made mis­takes last Satur­day, let’s see how we can ap­ply coach­ing and not make those same mis­takes this Satur­day,” In­gram said. “Let’s just see growth.”

Among those not prac­tic­ing are re­ceiver Daulton Hy­att (out in­def­i­nitely with

a pulled ham­string) run­ning back T.J. Ham­monds and tight end Hud­son Henry (both in con­cus­sion pro­to­col).

Ju­nior run­ning back and Hous­ton na­tive Rakeem Boyd, Arkansas’ lead­ing rusher with 734 yards last year de­spite re­port­ing from ju­nior col­lege with a chron­i­cally in­jured shoul­der that re­quired surgery last win­ter, has been named to the Earl Camp­bell Tyler Rose Award Pre­sea­son Watch List.

Hon­or­ing Texas Longhorns Col­lege Hall of Fame and Hous­ton Oil­ers NFL Hall of Fame run­ning back Earl Camp­bell of Tyler, Texas, the Earl Camp­bell Tyler Rose Award an­nu­ally hon­ors the best col­le­giate of­fen­sive player from Texas.

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