Fayetteville, Ark. – The Arkansas Razorbacks returned to the field on Monday after their first day off during fall practices as a sharper and well rested unit. The Hogs even had a few injured players back on the field for individual drills.
The following are news updates from the fall practices:
Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson and redshirt freshman backup quarterback Brandon Allen had a crisp morning session with only a couple of incomplete passes each.
Brandon Mitchell, former backup quarterback turned wide receiver, has continued to impress positioning himself as the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Cobi Hamilton.
Junior college transfer Demetrius Wilson has disappeared on the field over the last few practices. He was getting a lot of work at punt returner last week but that job appears to be Dennis Johnson’s entering the Jacksonville State game.
True freshman running back Nate Holmes may skip a freshman redshirt season with his play on special teams and as a backup running back. Holmes has been getting work as the second man deep on punt returns with Dennis Johnson in place of Demetrius Wilson.
D.D. Jones has continued to play well throughout fall practices. The Arkansas defensive front will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the 2012 season. Heavy running teams like Alabama and LSU will have trouble running through the Arkansas defense come the fourth quarter, as in year’s past, with this group.
The Razorbacks are a legitimate three-deep going into the season which will keep the defense fresh during gut-check times in the fourth quarter of big games.
Defensive tackle Alfred Davis was reported to miss some time in practice on Monday. No word to the extent of his injury; does not seem to be too serious.
Rohan Gaines continues to shine at safety. Gaines, 5’11”, 190 pounds, may not be big but he will lay big hits on the ball carriers. Gaines will see time in Ross Rasner’s spot at free safety depending on the defensive alignment, 4-3 or 4-2-5. Rasner will be pulled up to the line of scrimmage working at outside linebacker in 4-2-5 situations.
True sophomore Tevin Mitchell is turning heads during fall camp. He has reportedly added 10-15 pounds of muscle to his 6’0”, 192 pound frame without losing any speed or flexibility. The letters N-F-L are already mentioned in sentences describing his talents.
Darius Winston reportedly had a great and has been strong in fall camp. As a senior the Arkansas coaching staff will expect big things from him throughout the year.
True freshmen Keon Hatcher and Mekale McKay are playing their way into a role within the wide receiver rotation as true freshmen. Both continue to shine on the field and have shown a willingness to improve.
Wide receiver Javontee Herndon missed practice time on Monday due to an injury while Julian Horton has taken some lumps from the coaches and starting QB Tyler Wilson.
Wilson was caught in an exchange with Horton after practice, letting his wide out know what he was doing wrong in practice. Good to see Wilson “get-on” his teammates as needed exercising a leadership role. Wilson did the same with center Travis Swanson after a couple of bad snaps in shotgun formation.
The offensive line has been playing better but questions still abound. Bailey has reclaimed his starting spot at guard on the strong side with Brey Cook at strong tackle. The quick side first-team guard has been senior Tyler Deacon with junior David Hurd playing tackle.
Deacon and Hurd are both walk-ons that have paid their dues and are finally coming into their own. Jason Peacock, a starter at tackle last season, has been lining up with the second team throughout camp. Speculation is Peacock will miss a couple of games for his arrest this spring. Having Hurd line up with first team, as earned, will help the Hogs continuity in the long haul. Quick tackle is a spot Hurd can keep or lose once the season begins.
As far as depth on the offensive line, it is far better than last year at this time with quality backups. Mitch Smothers has made the move to center and appears to be the next in line once Swanson graduates or if he leaves early for the NFL at the end of the season.
Chris Stringer is a monster. He is listed at 6’7”, 307 pounds but he has to be much heavier. He’s only a sophomore and he could be in line for playing time this year and in the future as a two-year starter once his passing blocking and run blocking click down after down.
Freshmen Grady Ollison could be the other tackle to push Stringer and Cook for time in the future. He continues to improve during fall camp.
Luke Charpentier and Marcus Danenhauer have pushed for playing time at guard. The second string linemen have not faired as well as they should in scrimmages to date. There is time for each to improve before the season begins.
The biggest impact freshmen have been Otha Peters and A.J. Turner at linebackers. Both have a nose for the ball and seem to play off each other’s energy and enthusiasm. They will get playing time come Sept. 1.
Speculation is defensive ends JaMichael Winston and Brandon Lewis could by-pass their redshirt year as well.
Freshman Jeremy Sprinkle is out for the 2012 season with a wrist injury.
Tight end Brett Weir has missed time in practice due to heat exhaustion.
Suitemates Jonathan Williams (running back) and Otha Peters have gotten into a couple of wrestling matches during practice. They are buddies and have found a way to fire each other up on and off the field.
True freshman Defonta Lowe (safety) and Will Hines (cornerback) may also be used during the season. This may be more as a safety net or “just in case” measures instead of readiness to play.
Alonzo Highsmith was back on the field after a week off due to injury on Monday. He was in shorts but still participated which is a start.
Tank Wright has slowly but surely been participating in more individual drills. No official time table has been announced as to when he will be 100 percent again and fully integrated into practices.
Running back Knile Davis has been explosive through the holes during limited contact drills. He has not participated in tackle to the ground drills or scrimmages this fall.
NFL scouts have been on hand to watch Arkansas during fall camp. The Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, and Houston Texans are just a few that have caught a few practices.