Arkansas Safeties

Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes gave Hawgs Illustrated his assessment of the safeties following spring drills. This is part of a series to run over the next week at HI.com.

COACH'S ASSESSENT
Paul Haynes on the Safeties:

Overview: This is a group that now has depth with Jerry Mitchell and Rohan Gaines coming along this spring. It's a very athletic and physical group. What they have to work on the most is communication skills. They have to be the quarterback a little bit on this defense, so they need to make sure to communicate every down and be great tacklers.

Ross Rasner
6-0, 212, SR
Ross is playing that safety and star position for us. He's our nickelback and his biggest challenge going into the spring was playing both of those spots for us, which he did very well. I think Ross is probably one of our best football players on this defense. He's very knowledgeable, his football intelligence is very high, he communicates very well. When you come out to practice, you'll hear Ross talking and communicating and that's what you want out of your safety position. He had a very productive spring for us and a very productive offseason. When you look at his size, he's big and strong and he can play in the middle of the field. He's got good range that allows him to play sideline-to-sideline. Plus, he can do a good job of playing in the box. When I watch Ross, he's always playing in football position and plays square. A lot of guys get themselves out of position because they don't do those things.

Eric Bennett
6-0, 206, JR
Eric Bennett has played a lot of football for us. He's a very good football player and very instinctive. There's one thing I always talk to Eric about is that he has to get better on is his communication. He has so much knowledge he can give to other guys. He knows what's about to happen and when he talks and communicates, he helps his defense. He did a good job in the offseason and it carried over to the spring. He's a very strong, physical and very fast kid.

Jerry Mitchell
6-1, 219, JR
Jerry had a very good spring for us and improved. When you look at Jerry and his size and he ran a 4.4, the thing I challenged him with this spring is he has to play 4.4 and he did that. He was a guy who we needed to step up for us this spring and he did. Because when you look at Ross, going to that nickel spot, we need another safety to step up.

Rohan Gaines
5-11, 190, FR
Rohan is another kid who you're going to see on the field this year. When Ross goes to that star position, it's between Rohan and Jerry and that battle is still on-going through the summer and the fall, that you'll see one of those guys out there. Rohan is a kid that you talk about that is just a football player. He's not always right, but he'll find himself around the ball and he's very productive.

Alan Turner
6-0, 212, SO
Alan is very, very physical for us. He is another kid that can run. Really, he's probably the fifth safety for us, and when you're talking about the fifth guy, you're probably talking about a special teams guy, but he did improve for us this spring at the safety spot.

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