The Arkansas newcomers -- sprinkled with some young returnees -- hit the field for the first practice of 2012 in the tough heat Thursday afternoon at the intramural fields. Temperatures were at 101 for much of the practice.
There were smiles from the coaches as they put their 2012 class through two hours of drills -- minus a 10-minute cooling off period midway through the workout. Defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell joked as he headed back to the tent after the cool down, "They looked the part even if they don't know their parts."
Head coach John L. Smith, set to address the media after the veterans finish their first workout at 8 p.m., urged the youngsters to pick up the pace even as they jogged to the cooling off tent. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino tried to up the tempo several times as the a makeshift lineup worked through some plays. He shouted at transfer quarterback Taylor Reed, "This isn't Memphis. We go faster than that!"
Even as the players pushed through the heat it was clear there was talent in the newcomer group. There were enough defensive linemen to form two groups. And there was obvious talent behind them at linebacker and in the secondary.
Otha Peters, praised for his strength in summer workouts, displayed good movement and was an obvious standout in the limited work that took place Thursday. Another impressive defender as far as movement had to be safety Defonta Lowe.
There was speed everywhere on offense where receivers Keon Hatcher, Demetrius Wilson, D'Arthur Cowan, Eric Hawkins and Mekale McKay were kept busy by assistant coach Kris Cinkovich. Tim Horton had obvious talents at running back in Jonathan Williams, Nate Holmes and Donovan Roberts. Wilson, Hawkins and Holmes appeared to be the burners in that group of eight blue chippers.
John L. Smith took the field for the first time as UA head coach after Bobby Petrino was fired last spring. Smith has a 10-month contract. He kept himself busy changing practice fields between offense and defense on the intramural fields.
Running backs coach Tim Horton fires a pass to Donovan Roberts as head coach John L. Smith watches.
Assistant coach Kris Cinkovich puts Demetrius Wilson and Mekale McKay through opening day paces.
Photos by Clay Henry
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