Perhaps no player that Arkansas has not put on the field this season has gotten more publicity than De'Andre Coley.
Coley (6-1, 197) is a true freshman free safety that is redshirting that has gotten praise for Razorback head coach Bret Bielema, defensive coordinator Chris Ash and many of his teammates during the season.
"It's been going good, just getting more reps because it is a bye week," Coley said earlier this week. "I am feeling good, but I have to keep competing, though. I am not going to let the good talk get to me."
Coley, a former Miami, Fla., Northwestern standout, has gone from 168 pounds when he arrived in Fayetteville to 197 now by hitting the weights.
"It has helped me a lot," Coley said. "I came in just under 170 and now I am at 197. I am stronger and faster. It has helped me out there on the field."
Ash noted that Coley really shined this week in practice.
"He's a guy who has kind of stood out," Ash said. "He has put on about 30 pounds since he got here. He never really weight lifted in high school so he has physically changed his body. When he's out there he can run and he's not afraid to hit. I'm really impressed with him."
Bielema noted Coley's hitting ability earlier in the week.
"He tackles everything in sight," Bielema said. "I have to get on him because he's trying to hit our running backs when he's not being blocked. He's Mr. Shy, really doesn't say too much, but a really, really good player in the working."
Coley admits that he has focused really hard on his playbook.
"I have been learning a lot and doing what I have got to do," Coley said. "I am just trying to do my job. Taking it step-by-step and just learning to get ready for the spring and next season."
He admits that it was a huge jump from high school to college.
"Lining up, learning plays," Coley said. "In high school, you only had to learn two plays – Cover Two and Cover Three. Coach Ash is getting me in the books and I am learning a lot."
Coley is part of a 2013 signing class that coaches have shown promise in games or practice with tailback Alex Collins, tight end Hunter Henry, offensive linemen Denver Kirkland, Dan Skipper and Reeve Koehler, middle linebacker Brooks Ellis, tailback/safety Korliss Marshall, cormerback D.J. Dean, wideouts Drew Morgan and Melvinson Hartfield, defensive end Tevin Beanum and defensive tackle Ke'Tyrus Marks.
"Moving forward we are going to be a very good team," Coley said. "Next year all of us are going to be playing and we are going to get some wins."
Coley, who had 68 tackles, three interceptions, six sacks and 12 pass break ups as as senior, can see himself and Marshall being the starting safeties next year if the defensive coaches get to keep Marshall.
"He is a very good player, very fast, very quick," Coley said. "He can read the ball really good. If both of us are back there, we are going to do our thing."
If Coley – who has 10.6 speed in the 100 meter dash - is back there, he plans to alleviate fans concerns about tackling in the secondary.
"I am big hitter," Coley said. "Everybody likes when I hit. When we have this development scrimmages, I just do my thing and every time I make big hits. Me and Alex Collins went head-to-head one time. They had to stop it, they didn't want me hitting him."
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