Finding The Right Backers

Daunte Carr and Braylon Mitchell have not had the Razorback careers that either one of them envisioned so far, but both have put themselves in position for significant playing time at linebacker this fall with a good camp.

Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon knows everybody wants to know who is running first team and who is playing where, but he said Friday that the only number is into know is how many guys he can get ready to play this season.

"It's been pretty up and down," Shannon said. "For the most part, guys have been really steady. We have been mixing and matching and doing some things because you have got to build depth. Everybody wants to know who is first and second team, but I always have a point to where I just play the best guys. I have always been that way.

"If we have two guys that are the weakside backers and maybe the strongside guys are not doing well, then we move that guy," Shannon added. "We don't develop a depth chart. We develop bodies and people that can help us win games."

He is excited to see all the candidates in Saturday's situation scrimmage, which will be open to the public after five closed workouts and get underway at around 3:50 p.m.

"I am looking for guys to just fly around and have fun," Shannon said. "Always in the first scrimmage, the biggest things you look for on defense are you want guys to chase the football and have no loafs. You want guys with no missed tackles and to limit the busts. That is the three biggest things because that is what you work on all the time.

"You give them a game plan, work them for five days and then come up in the scrimmage and see if they execute," Shannon added.

One of the guys that made a move in the spring is junior Daunte Carr (6-4, 234), the former Gainesville (Ga.) High School star who arrived as a highly-recruited safety that ended up choosing Arkansas over Stanford and others.

Carr has been known more of his injuries than his play on the field and is hoping this is year to bust out and left spring practice as number one on the depth chart at middle linebacker.

"As of right now, I am fully healthy," Carr said. "I try not to think about that, just keep on playing and take it one day at a time."

"He has done a great job in our nickle package and doing some really good things coverage wise," Shannon said. "We are excited about him, but like anything else, you have to keep working on him. Myself and the other coaches expect more out of him and he expects more out of himself. We are going to continue to push him to be the player we think he can be."

Carr started spring drills at 220, but is up to 235 and feels good with the added strength and muscle while working with Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.

"Coach Herb has done a great job," Carr said. "I think I increased a good 20 to 30 pounds on bench, a rough estimate now to a little over 400 pounds...I am a little over 500 (in the squat) after being just a little over 400. So it was over a 100-pound gain."

He has made the transition from being a safety when he arrived to being a guy that runs the defense from the middle linebacker spot.

"You have to take command of the whole defense," Carr said. "You have to have a meaner mentality and you have got to go hit somebody. So far so good."

Shannon is working several guys including Braylon Mitchell, Jarrett Lake, A.J. Turner, Otha Peters, Myke Tavarres or Austin Jones – who were all here this past spring.

He's also added in junior college transfer Martrell Spaight and freshman Brooks Ellis to this prseason camp.

"They look pretty good," Shannon said. "They are athletic and fast, they run around really well. They are playing hard, they are physical and they like to have fun."

Mitchell, who also left spring as a first-team, has added 10 extra pounds and is also up to 235.

"The first couple of days it was a little tough to run around and carry, but every day I take a stride forward and able to carry the weight better now."

He is excited about Saturday scrimmage and being able to prove he is ready to play a starring role thus season.

"I am really excited about the chance go out there and fly around and make some plays and show the coaches we know what the defense is about," Mitchell said. "We also get to have a little fun now that we have this pads on. It's going to get competitive."

Shannon noted that all the linebackers were happy to have the full pads on for the first time on Friday.

"I was happy the linebackers, but you always want perfect," Shannon said. "We are never going to be perfect, but we are seeking perfection."

The Razorbacks have been working both two and three linebacker sets in practice and will use both in camp.

"It depends on the opponent," Shannon said. "You always have your nickle and your dime packages, but it really depends on what the other team is trying to do...There may be some things we work on in camp that we don't use to the eighth game, but it will be about recall then."

Daunte Carr

Braylon Mitchell

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