Petrino: Knile Davis Full Speed

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino hit the spring circuit for the first time with a visit to the White County Razorback Club. He entertained a crowd of 350 at Searcy High School on Thursday night.

Bobby Petrino pronounced running back Knile Davis 100 percent. The junior running back is back to form after surgery before last season after breaking a bone in his ankle.

"Knile is doing great," Petrino said. "He's running around, making all the cuts. He's full speed. He's 100 percent."

Davis is far enough along in his recovery that Petrino said there may be a decision left to make ahead of spring drills in late March. Will Davis get any contact.

"I believe in the old saying, don't make a decision until you have to," Petrino said. "So we can wait a little longer. The question is do you wait until the fall for contact, or do you put him in some live work in the spring. We don't have to decide just yet."

Petrino said staff meetings have been interesting with new coaches Paul Haynes and Taver Johnson teaching the rest of the staff new terminology.

"It's good that Coach Haynes has Coach Johnson in there with him," Petrino said. "It's good he came with him from Ohio State because that gives us a little more carry over from someone else who knows it.

"We've been meeting in the mornings and going over football things until lunch. We are studying our schemes and playbook and also getting into some of the things with our opponents."

One of the new opponents will be Rutgers, but it's not until the fourth week of the season.

"It's good that they will have a few games before we get to them," Petrino said. "They do have some new staff members. We know that there will be some carry over from the old staff on defense. Offensively, we know to study Boston College video but there will probably be some from Rutgers video, too."

The Hogs are replacing a lot of defensive playmakers, including four-year starters in middle linebacker Jerry Franklin, defensive end Jake Bequette, outside linebacker Jerico Nelson and free safety Tramain Thomas.

Petrino said final decisions on spring depth haven't been made, but he did give some hints on positions where a few players would get their first looks. Redshirt freshman Kelvin Fisher worked at running back and cornerback in the fall and during bowl practices, but will work at corner in the spring. Redshirt freshman Davyon McKinney also will be at corner.

"That was a hard decision on Kelvin because he did so well at running back last fall," Petrino said. "But we want to do what's both best for the team and for him, long range.

"Davyon had a really good redshirt year, too. He improved every day. He's got long arms and has great ball skills. We think that will help him at cornerback."

There was some debate on whether the Hogs needed McKinney's big frame at safety where both Thomas and backup Elton Ford finished eligibility. Safety is still depth shy.

"We are thin there," he said. "Eric Bennett started every game there and made four interceptions, three to end games. We like the way he finished games. So we have some experience there.

"We are going to put Ross Rasner back there to help at safety. He played the nickel and we want to see what he can do back there (at safety) and we know that he can still play the nickel. We think he can help us at safety.

"We also will have Rohan Gaines at safety and we are also going to move Jerry Mitchell inside (at safety from cornerback). We have some other guys who will also compete for playing time."

That leaves Alonzo Highsmith as the most experienced linebacker. He started every game on the outside. Could he move inside to play in the middle?

"He could, but we would like to keep him on the outside and not slow him down with having to learn a new position," Petrino said. "We have some players that have played some at middle linebacker.

"Turrell Williams played there some behind Jerry Franklin and did a nice job there. We also think we can get some help from Brock Haman and Robert Atiga. We may have to have some help from one of the freshman."

Petrino was asked about the move to Fayetteville for the LSU game to end the regular season.

"We are real fortunate that our administration understood and looked at the schedule this year," Petrino said. "We were going on the road two straight weeks. That means we will miss classes on Friday. It's good that we stay on campus that third week.

"We have great fan support in both stadiums. I want everyone to make sure that everyone knows that we will look at everything each year. This might not be a permanent move."

Petrino said weight room training will be shorter in duration this winter, a concern.

"We started school a few days later this January -- not until the 18th -- and we are starting spring two days before spring break," Petrino said. "So what we will have in the weight room will be a little shorter. We are just getting deep into it now.

"Where we are right now is finding some leadership and some of the identity of this team. It's going well, but it's still early."

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