With preseason camp ending on Friday and transitioning into game week preparations for next Saturday's opener with Louisiana-Lafayette, there is absolutely no doubt who has been the star of practice so far.
That would be senior linebacker Jarrett Lake (6-3, 225), who has drawn rave reviews from fellow players and coaches, including Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and linebackers coach Randy Shannon.
"If I can take one guy, bottle him up and take a part of his DNA and put it in everybody right now it would be J-Lake," Bielema said. "That kid is infectious. Contagious personality. Every day he's out there having fun. He's doing cartwheels, summersaults, laughing and joking around. And you know his life hasn't been a bed of roses now.
"He's a kid that has bought into everything we've asked him to do," Bielema added. "I know Coach Shannon is high, high, high on him. And all of our defensive coaches. He's a guy that is very captivating right now."
Shannon lauded the play and personality of Lake, a former Tulsa prep star at Jenks.
"Lake has been fun to coach," Shannon said. "He has fun in practice. He plays with emotion. He chases the ball and plays with effort. He leads us by example."
Lake, who has appeared in 27 games and has 27 career tackles, will be celebrating his 22nd birthday next Saturday as well as opening his season against the Sun Belt Conference favorites.
"I think my position coach has been the main difference," Lake said. "He's been able to teach me little things about being a great linebacker. I have just tried to embrace his teachings and go out there with a positive attitude and intensity."
Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Lake played in nine games last season while recording 11 tackles.
"I feel like I have been able to grow a lot, mainly just off the field stuff," Lake said. "Getting my head clear, staying focus on my grades, staying focus on football and just having fun again."
He has a clear picture of what he wants the defense to get accomplished this season.
"First my expectations as a defense, I want my defense to go out there and stop the run and then stop the pass," Lake said. "I feel like individual goals will come once my defense performs."
He likes the way that Shannon has the linebackers rotating in different spots.
"It's real good because if you get stuck in a position that is not your first position, you will know how to play it because we rotate. It has helped us out a lot."
The Ragin' Cajuns is led by quarterback Terrance Broadway (6-2, 211), who transferred from Houston and took over as the starting quarterback in 2012.
He passed for 2,842 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 66 percent of his passes and also rushed for 769 yards and nine more scores.
Arkansas freshman quarterback Damon Mitchell has simulated Broadway in practices.
"He brings a real good challenge," Lake said. "I feel like our scout team player Duwop (Mitchell) gives us a real great look and that is going to help us prepare for Lafayette's quarterback."
Arkansas had its trouble last season with mobile quarterbacks.
"We really don't want to dwell on last year, we are just trying to look at this year," Lake said. "I guess our first test is not just proving to our team and ourselves but to the country that we can stop a mobile quarterback."
Jarrett Lake celebrates signing with Arkansas back in 2010.
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