The Next Step

Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith (6-3, 251), who got a sack during Friday's scrimmage and hurried the quarterback several other times, led the Razorbacks' defensive ends in tackles last season and has plans to make an even bigger step forward as a junior.

Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith was credited with only one official sack during Friday's scrimmage, but likely would have recorded a few more if the quarterbacks were live during spring practice and allowed to be hit.

That's something that Smith (6-3, 251) plans to do plenty this season as the junior-to-be prepares to step into a more significant and possibly starting role for the Razorbacks.

"I have got to look at this as being my time to step forward, to being someone the coaches can count on every play, to be someone that turns into a quarterback's worst nightmare," Smith said. "But another key thing is to be a more complete player, not just a pass rusher."

Smith recorded 31 tackles as a sophomore - including 3 ½ sacks and six tackles for lost yardage – while also recording two quarterback hurries and a pass break-up.

Smith actually led the team in tackles with senior Jake Bequette (28 tackles), junior Tenarius Wright (25 tackles) and DeQuinta Jones (19) and freshman Trey Flowers (28).

But it was Bequette – who had 10 sacks while playing in the same amount of games – who caused the most havoc and brought the most attention from opposing offenses.

"I have learned so much from Jake and Tank (Wright) and want to have the same type of impact this season as they did last season," Wright said. "To do that, I have to work hard every day during spring practice on my technique and doing the right things every play."

Arkansas added junior college transfer defensive end Austin Flynn at mid-term and that allowed Wright to move to middle linebacker this spring.

"Yes, I'm upset about that, he's one of ours," Smith joked. "Honestly, I think it is going to be a great move for him and our defense. He wants to be there and he's going to make our defense better. We have enough depth now at defensive end so it's a great situation at both places."

Smith had six tackles and one pass break-up while playing in six games as a freshman, beore making a big move his sophomore season.

"Part of that was because of the effort that I put in during the off-season and during spring practice," Smith said. "You can't take a play off, you have got to go hard every play and you have to get better every day because somebody else is.

Smith, a former North Carolina high school standout, likes that he sees from new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes.

"I am real excited about Coach Haynes and what the other new coaches are bringing," Smith said. "They are very energetic and we are feeding off of that energy and enthusiasm. They know what they are doing and we are all just getting after it."

Chris Smith

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