Young Backers

Arkansas will take a pair of true freshman linebackers in to South Carolina on Saturday to face the Gamecocks.

Arkansas knows it is going into hostile territory and will be starting two true freshman linebackers.

So does South Carolina (7-2, 5-2), which hosts the Razorbacks (4-5, 2-3) Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

At least their talented ones in A.J. Turner (6-2, 220) and Otha Peters (6-1, 230), both gems of the 2012 recruiting class.

"I like them both," Arkansas head coach John L. Smith said. "They are both intelligent and very good kids to work with. They want to do what's right and will come in and spend extra time. They are going to be real good football players.

"It's good for them and for their future that they are in playing this early in their career so from that standpoint, it is a positive," Smith added.

Turner was Hawg Illustrated's top-ranked player in Arkansas in the class of 2012 and had a spectacular career at East Poinsett County.

"A.J. Turner is very athletic," Smith said. "He is a guy that can walk on a basketball court and dunk with either hand…It is just a matter of making sure he plays a lot.

"Every day he plays, he gets better," Smith said. "He does more about how to drop, where to drop – as far as his pass coverage- and he is learning more about where to fit and how to fit as far as his run fits go. He is getting a ton better.

"He is a wanting hitter, he is a willing hitter," Smith continued. "He is very, very skilled. Again it is just a matter of how that made has to play a lot of football so he gets better."

Peters was a Louisiana prep star and late steal for Arkansas from Tennessee, where he had been a long-time commitment.

"Peters is somewhat the same although he hasn't played as much as A.J. has at this point," Smith said. "He has been a little hampered throughout the year with a groin problem. That is getting better.

"…He is a little bigger, a little bit more in the physical mold of a middle linebacker," Smith added. "…He runs pretty good and again he is a willing hitter and plays the run." Smith knows what his team is about to face in the Gamecocks, who had an open date last week after a loss in which they lost star Marcus Lattimore to injury for the season.

"South Carolina is a very good football team," Smith said. "They are good on offense, good on defense, good in all the special teams. Those guys can run so it is going to be a test for us, but we are looking forward to it."

Smith did say there was some hope that Arkansas tailback Knile Davis could play this weekend.

"We are anticipating a no go now, but that is not necessarily the case," Smith said. "Knile could be ready…We are knocking on wood that the leg is better than it has been and it is looking like we may have him for the weekend now. That is a 50-50 shot right now and we are hoping for the best."

Otha Peters

A.J. Turner

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