Not surprisingly, Batesville packed the house for Bobby Petrino's first stop on the Razorback Club circuit Tuesday night.
"This is the first one of the spring," Petrino said at Batesville High School at the White River Razorback Club's Hog Bash. "It's an exciting time."
Petrino said he was ready for the trip, but he's glad there's still three weeks before spring drills unfold. He wants every day in the winter offseason program. The Hogs are one week into their early-morning drills.
"We've still got a ways to go, but they are off to a nice start," Petrino said. "This is a time where you start building a brand new team. We are seeing where we are in leadership."
Petrino mentioned Peacock in a short media briefing before the dinner at Batesville. But he talked more about true freshman Brey Cook, a midterm enrollee. Cook is 6-7, 310. How has Cook looked in the early workouts?
"Brey is impressive," Petrino said. "He can really bend at the hip. He's off to a good start." Anthony Oden, who missed last season with mononucleosis, has impressed, too.
"Anthony lost a lot of weight when he was sick in the fall," Petrino said. "But he's come back in good shape and he's got most of that back. He's doing well. He's going to be fine."
Petrino indicated he might change his approach to grooming quarterbacks. Usually, there is no contact in the spring, but he said breaking in a new starter might mean some hitting for the signal callers.
"We are still evaluating how we are going to do that, but we might change it up," Petrino said. "We did hit some of the quarterbacks in the spring game, but we might have two or three (scrimmages) where we hit them. We need to see how they handle it."
That goes double since there may be some additional running situations with the read option out of the shotgun or "Pistol" formation.
"That's part of it," Petrino said. "You don't know until they are hit a little bit with a new quarterback. So we are probably going to do that more."
Petrino updated the club on a trio of injuries that will affect spring practice.
Petrino said running back and kick returner Dennis Johnson is 100 percent and will go through spring practices beginning next month. Petrino said Johnson was granted a medical redshirt and will be a junior next season.
Greg Childs is recovering well from his knee surgery in November. He won't be able to go through full-contact drills in the spring, but could see the field in a very limited role. He is expected to be 100 percent by mid-summer.
Jatashun Beachum, who is better known as "Big Tex", had shoulder surgery following the season and won't be able to go through spring drills, Petrino said. There has been talk Beachum, who practiced at running back during the preseason, might move to defensive tackle next season, but Petrino said that decision hasn't been made.
"It will depend on his weight and whether he stays big or gets smaller," Petrino said. "He hasn't got down to the weight we would like to see him at to play running back at this time."
In the question and answer period at the end of the night, Petrino was asked if fans should book their tickets now for the national title game in New Orleans.
"If I could make predictions, I'd get in a different line of work," he said. "But what I will say to that is that we are going to have a football team that believes it is going to compete for a national title.
"In recruiting, when we brought in players they told us they were excited about our program because they saw players here that believe they are working to be national champions. It's a pretty tough league. We do believe we have a chance to win every time we take the field. Once in a while the ball has to bounce the right way and we certainly think we are due."
Petrino was asked how he can replace tight end D. J. Williams, the best in school history.
"We have some tight ends," he said. "We have Chris Gragg, Austin Tate and we redshirted Garrett Uekman. But you have to look at our strengths. We have great depth at wide receiver and we may play more four wide receiver sets and then some of those guys have to help us at tight end."
Offensive line coach Chris Klenakis made the trip, too. He explained during his time at the podium that he and Petrino developed a theme for the unit up front called "The Union," and hard hats were given after great performances.
"The Union is going to continue," Klenakis said. "That's something that we take pride in and is going to be something we keep doing and build on this spring."