Dean runs like, plays like a man

Arkansas freshman cornerback D.J. Dean has brought his track skills and physicality to the Razorbacks' secondary.

Arkansas freshman cornerback D.J. Dean is used to running.

The Newton, Texas native ran the 400-meter dash in high school. He said his best time in the event was a 46.8 and said that race has helped him improve as a football player.

"I ran the 400 and they say that's a man's race," Dean said. "So I guess that got me tough and ready for football."

Dean also played quarterback in high school, but he said he prefers to play on the defensive side of the ball.

"I really didn't like playing quarterback, I was just the guy for the job," Dean said.

"I like to get in there and rough them (wide receivers) up a bit."

Sophomore cornerback Will Hines said he has noticed how Dean's physicality and stamina have helped him on the gridiron as well.

"D.J. is learning really fast," Hines said. "When he gets it down really good, he's going to help a lot.

"He came in and now he's like the heaviest cornerback already and he's just a freshman. He's about 200 pounds and he can run for days. He ran the 400 in high school, so he's got good stamina. And he's energetic."

Dean has been working with the second team at cornerback. He plays on the right side of the field with Carroll Washington taking the reps on the left side. He said he has also gotten a chance to practice at nickelback.

"I like nickel," Dean said. "You get to blitz a lot and get in there and get a hit on the quarterback.

"I just wanted to come in and be the best fit for the team."

Arkansas cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said Dean's skills and tendencies could give him the chance to contribute this season.

"He is a freshman, but the speed of the game isn't a problem for him, it's just doing it all the time," Johnson said of Dean. "One thing, he is a smart kid. He will hit you and he's not afraid and that's always a prerequisite."

Dean splits second-team reps with Hines or redshirt freshman Jared Collins. Collins and Hines are competing to be the starting cornerback on the opposite side of the field from junior Tevin Mitchel.

Hines started nine games last year, but he was named second-string behind Collins following the spring. He said he embraces the competition with Collins, however.

"It's been fun," Hines said. "Jared and I have been competing since last spring. It really hasn't affected our friendship, it's just made us work harder and brings the best play out of both of us, so it's really good for the team."

Hines said each time one player makes a play, the other will try to outdo him and "that's how it should be."

"That's how it should be for the whole defense at every position," Hines said. "The second-string person should want to make more plays than the first-team person because that's going to make the first-string person want to make more plays and it just works out for the whole defense."

The Razorbacks will have their second scrimmage on Saturday. While Johnson and the defense as a whole are focused on forcing turnovers, Collins said a big play by either he or Hines could play a role in who wins the starting job.

"It could be the determining factor," Collins said. "You never know. You just have to go out there and play your hardest every play."

Collins, like Hines, said the competition has helped them improve at cornerback.

"We have a good relationship," Collins said. "We just know that whoever's going first, the other one is going to work hard to improve the game, and then in turn the other will try and improve his game, too. So its just a constant battle. A friendly battle."

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