Rohan Gaines earned the reputation as one of the most fierce hitters on the Arkansas defense in the spring. He's trying to make sure that junior college transfer Martrell Spaight doesn't replace him.
"That's why I wanted to get back out there after missing a few days of practice," Gaines said Tuesday, just ahead of Spaight in the interview room. "He was doing that when I wasn't there."
Gaines, sophomore strong safety, missed a few practices with a bruised knee, but is 100 percent now -- so he can join Spaight in passing out the impressive hits.
In the meantime, Spaight has done enough that teammates coined a new term. When you really take a hit, head coach Bret Bielema said, "You have been Spaighted."
Gaines said he tried to beat everyone in the race to nickname Spaight. He said he saw him destroy players on back-to-back plays in inside run.
"One play, he took out an offensive lineman, then on the next it was a fullback," Gaines said. "I called him the Terminator, my nickname for him. But it didn't stick. Everyone called him the Spaightor. I still call him Terminator."
Spaight likes them both. He is appreciative of the Gaines attempt to stick him with a good nickname.
"I guess that one is between him and me," Spaight said. "I like it. But it's cool for them to call me The Spaightor. I like that one.
"In junior college, I heard a few times that I had Spaighted someone, but it didn't stick. It wasn't near like it has been here. This is really the first time that it's stuck and I like it. Pretty cool."
Arkansas has ached for a hitter at linebacker. Sam Olajubutu turned heads with his ability to make plays during his time (2003-2006) at Arkansas. Jeremaine Petty earned some All-America honors in the 2001 season.
The other Arkansas players to earn All-America honors were Cliff Powell (1969), Ronnie Caveness (1963-64) and Wayne Harris (1960).
The best nickname of the bunch was Harris, known to teammates as simply "The Thumper." He played at only 165 pounds, but was famous for the way he coiled and struck ball carriers.
Spaight's ability to coil and strike is what has impressed teammates.
"You don't want to be an offensive player in his path," Gaines said. "He gets his body in a position to hit."
Spaight said it's a matter of "stepping with the same shoulder you are going to hit with. I think that's the key."
Outside linebacker Price Holmes said, "It's a matter of knowing exactly how to position his body to deliver the blow. I will just say that if he steps on the field, keep your eyes on him. He's going to hit someone."
Defensive coordinator Chris Ash is proud of Gaines, but said, "Pound for pound, Martrell Spaight is the biggest hitter on this team. We are trying to get him as many reps as possible. He hasn't been here longer, but the way he's played says a lot about his football IQ. We are trying to get him prepared for both Sam and Will linebacker."
It's given defensive players a lot of pleasure to see a teammate explode in scrimmages and inside run. Holmes said it's been the rage at meals.
"It has been lunch time conversation," Holmes said. "Has Spaight got you yet? That's what we ask the offensive players. Some of the guys will say, 'Yeah, he got me.' He's going to get you sooner or later because he's coming 100 mph."
Defensive end Chris Smith said there is lunch time talk about the ultimate collision.
"That would be Kiero Small and Martrell Spaight," he said. "That would be a collision. Coach (Bret) Bielema looks for tempo and it's coming. When it does happen, it's going to be a good one."
Gaines said, "Oh, yeah, that would be some kind of hit. I don't know who would win that one, maybe a stalemate. But you figure it's coming at some point."
There was a Small-Spaight hit Tuesday in one drill.
"Today, and it was pretty good," Spaight said. "I like the way he plays, pretty physical."
Spaight said he thinks an offensive lineman came up with the phrase last week.
"I didn't see it coming," he said. "An offensive lineman came up with it and the team rolled with it.
"It's been kinda crazy. It came out of no where. Now people come up to me and say, 'Who is going to get Spaighted today?'"
So far, Martrell Spaight has not responded with anything like the Terminator. Rohan Gaines expects any day to hear, "I'll be back."
Terminator or Spaightor?
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