"I have a chance to be a better coach with this group," Caldwell said after the Hogs announced a 24-man football signing class.
Life in the SEC becomes easier with great defensive ends. For the second straight year, Arkansas loaded up on defensive ends. This time, the Hogs signed five, all from different states.
"You never turn down a great player at any position, but we might have gone a little heavy on defensive ends," Petrino said. "We knew that we were losing Jake Bequette and that Tenarius Wright would be a senior.
"We wanted one junior college defensive end who could get in the rotation early. A year ago we took a good number of defensive ends and then bang-bang we had two guys out. That's a position where you have to play good football in this conference."
Obviously, Caldwell likes the way his head coach thinks.
"Coach Petrino might coach offense, but he knows what wins in this league," Caldwell said. "It starts up front on defense. If you can pressure off the edge, you can win national championships." Caldwell holds no illusions that he'll end up with all five in this class.
"I remember one year starting out in my meeting room with John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth," Caldwell said. "Obviously, they moved inside and were great players. Some of these guys are young and still filling out. They are going to add weight and they might move inside."
Or some might be too valuable as stand-up linebackers.
"They can all really run and have change of direction," Caldwell said. "You could play a lot of them at the same time. You can stand them up, put them inside and line them up with a hand on the ground."
Petrino said there were decisions at the end whether or not to take defensive ends or tackles. "We continue to take pass rushers," he said. "That makes everyone's job easier. I think it's like you see the (New York) Giants on third down, they have four defensive ends out there and those kind of athletes make it difficult."
Austin Flynn has already turned heads. The 6-5, 260-pounder junior college transfer enrolled at mid-term. He has dazzled in the weight room with his lifting power. He might be one of the ends that gets a chance at linebacker.
"There's so much you can do with these kinds of players," said Paul Haynes, the new defensive coordinator. "We are looking at (Flynn) to see what he can do, how he moves, how he changes directions.
"But so much of it will be what he's comfortable doing. I want players to tell me what they want to do. I will say that he looks very powerful in what we saw this morning."
The others will arrive in the summer. All are highly regarded. Here's their numbers:
• Taiwan Johnson, 6-3, 238, Manvel, Texas -- possibly a linebacker, loaded with speed.
• Brandon Lewis, 6-5, 235, Memphis Ridgeway -- possibly an outside linebacker, with a 7-2 wing span.
• JaMichael Winston, 6-6, 238, Mobile (Vigor), Ala. -- great closing speed, great against the run.
• Deatrich Wise, 6-5, 236, Carrollton (Hebron), Texas -- injured as a junior, fantastic as a senior year, wears size 18 shoe and has great growth potential.
"I love this class, all of them," Caldwell said. "I'm not just talking about defensive ends. All of them belong here, in the SEC. We still have to develop them, but they have the length, speed and change of direction."
Petrino said that's been the steady goal, add length and speed. This is his fifth class and he thought it was mission accomplished in those two areas.
"It's a fast class," Petrino said. "It's very athletic in all areas. Athletic with change in direction. That's been the goal, continue to get taller, longer. We have a number of players in the 6-5, 6-6 range, long defensive linemen. That helps when you are changing the body types.
"We wanted to bring in wide receivers. We are excited about what we have on campus. Certainly, that was an emphasis in this class and we signed four.
"We needed to recruit some running backs because we have three in our senior class next year. We decided against signing a quarterback. Obviously, when Tyler Wilson was thinking about going out early, that made for some discussion.
"We made the decision to recruit Memphis like it was Arkansas. We put Tim Horton over there and we were happy with getting three from there."
There was consternation on signing day when Dorial Green-Beckham picked Missouri after a long courtship with Arkansas.
Petrino said the Hogs wished DGB well, then reminded that his team has done well of late in the throwing game.
"We've led the SEC in passing the last three years," Petrino said. "We feel good about the way we develop quarterbacks and wide receivers. We will continue to grind. We hit the things we were looking to hit and we did a good job of finishing strong. I like the speed we have on this team and weadded to that."
Someone suggested these defensive ends all could be power forwards in basketball. Indeed, most are on the basketball court right now.
"Lewis and Winston are exactly that," Caldwell said. "And you watch A.J. Turner play basketball and he's off the charts. Wow.
"Then there's Jeremy Sprinkle. He's played some defensive end. What an athlete. He's 6-6 and he played shortstop on his baseball team. He's got unbelievable hands."
Sprinkle wills begin at tight end, but might end up at wide receiver. Turner is a linebacker prospect. Maybe he'll grow into a defensive end.
Thoughts of Sprinkle and Turner at defensive end produced a sparkle in Caldwell's eyes. He said that hasn't come up. He's plenty happy with what is headed for his meeting room.
Brandon Lewis has a frame with room to grow.