Caldwell was beaming Friday night after the second day of fall camp as he described what he's seen at defensive end, both with the veteran workouts and when he's had the newcomers on the field.
"We are off to a really good start -- especially with the varsity," Caldwell said. "I told them after yesterday's practice that this was the best set of drills I've seen in the three years that I've been here. They've been in the system and they know them.
"They've done a great job with their technique. I was really excited with the carry over in the technique and drills. It was fun to me to call a drill and watch them line up and run it. I was used to that after a long time at one place."
Caldwell was at Tennessee for 13 seasons before coming to Arkansas three years ago. Caldwell had some fine defensive ends with the Vols, but he calls this his best freshman crop.
"In this group, three are the best looking I've ever coached," he said. "That's JaMichael Winston, Deatrich Wise and Brandon Lewis. The fourth, Taiwan Johnson, looks good, too. But he doesn't have the length of the other three.
"Deatrich has the wingspan of a 7-2 athlete. He had his arms stretched out as he was closing in on the quarterback and he made him look like a midget."
The newcomers workouts aren't exactly a thing of beauty. Caldwell said the freshman "drive me crazy." There is one more practice with the newcomers only before the two groups combine for a Sunday morning workout.
"They are good athletes, but I look forward to them being with the varsity," said Caldwell, noting they can learn from the old hands.
As it is, Caldwell is showing the youngsters the varsity film each morning.
"We are running the same drills in each practice, so the freshmen can look at the way it's supposed to be run," he said. "We've done the same things with both groups."
Caldwell likes what he's seen of the veterans. He said starters Chris Smith and Trey Flowers have filled out and matured. Flowers is 260, Smith 252. Both have retained their impressive speed.
"Those two have done a really good job," Caldwell said. "It's only the second day. But they have done a tremendous job so far. They are flying. It's fun to see how much Trey has grown up. He's flying. Both of them are big and fast. I'm not sure our offense will see anything better this year."
Wright said he knew defensive end was in good hands when he made the move to linebacker.
"They've got a good rotation and you see the freshmen that are here now," Wright said. "This is the most athletic group that I've seen. We have a good rotation. I am going to be excited to see what Austin Flynn can do on game day. We haven't seen that yet. And I know Colton Miles-Nash can play, too."
What about the linebacker depth?
"I think we are going to be fine there, too," Wright said. "I see depth. I think we can go two deep and maybe three deep."
Otha Peters hasn't worked with the varsity. The freshman inside linebacker has turned heads on the practice field with the newcomers. What does Wright think?
"I haven't seen him on the field yet," Wright said. "I have watched film of him from high school. He can run to the ball. He looks like a good, strong player to me. I will be excited to see him on the field with us, too."
Wright thinks linebacker is his home now.
"I just feel natural there now," he said. "I still had my linebacker instincts. Linebacker was in my heart. I think the scheme is coming natural now. I had to learn it in the spring, but now it all seems to come on the field now."
There were no injuries Friday. Tight end Chris Gragg and safety Rohan Gaines both went down with cramps in the last 10 minutes of the workout. Keante Minor, bothered by cramps Thursday, appeared near full speed Friday.
Caldwell said the Hogs continue to put in all phases of the kicking game. He noted that Dennis Johnson was among those getting work at punt return. He acknowledged that the plan is to play twin punt returners, much the same way the Hogs did last year.
Deatrick Wise shows some excitement at the start of Friday's workout.
JaMichael Winston rolls through a drill on the second day of fall workouts.
Tyler Deacon (76) works with Brey Cook.
Dennis Johnson makes a cut.
Jason Peacock looks for his mark.
Graduate assistant Joseph Henry tries to shake the ball loose from Brandon Mitchell.
Knile Davis sets sail.
Paul Haynes makes his point.
John L. Smith asks for a faster tempo.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated