Spaight's Ready To Hit Somebody

Arkansas linebacker Martrell Spaight is cramming everything in he can this spring as he tries to make this a senior season to remember beginning with Saturday's scrimmage.

The man who the term Spaighted was coined for is anxious to get to Saturday's scrimmage.

It seems Arkansas' coaches have been asking senior linebacker Martrell Spaight (6-0, 228) and the other defenders to take it easy on the skill guys in practice.

But come Saturday, everyone except the quarterbacks are open game to be taken to the ground and that has the former North Little Rock star excited.

"It's going to be fun to go out and finally hit somebody," Spaight said. "I see a lot of intensity and everything's going to be going live out there. It's going to be a great time."

Someone who took a big hit from Spaight in practice or a game last season was dubbed to have been 'Spaighted.'"

But spring practice so far has been a bump pads, but don't take the skill guys to the ground kind of deal.

"It's been kind of tough at times," Spaight said. "When you do hit them, a coach will be like ‘stay off the running backs, stay up, stay up.'

"But you just have to play smart and not hurt your teammates," Spaight added. "We are just saving it up for somebody else."

Spaight, who had 22 tackles last season while playing in 8 games last season, has seen a more physical team this spring than last fall as he works as one of the first-teamers.

"Every day has been pretty physical," Spaight said. "This scrimmage will be a chance where we will get a chance to be hit and hit each other and I see a lot of energy coming in."

There was a brief skirmish between the offensive and defensive lines in Thursday's spring practice.

"Not being able to hit each other means there has been a lot of pent-up energy, a lot of pent-up frustration and everybody wants to hit somebody," Spaight said. "A part of me wanted to be in on it to be on there with my defense, but I had to just pay attention to what was in front of me so I can get better at everything I do."

Spaight was a two-time All-Jayhawk Conference First-team selection and that league's Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore when he racked up a whopping 130 tackles.

But despite graduating from Coffeyville early, Spaight was not able to go through spring practice with the Razorbacks last year because he had to take an online class to meet SEC standards.

Arkansas linebacker coach Randy Shannon expects to see the real Spaight this season since he will have this spring practice under his belt.

"It is helping him out a lot," Shannon said. "Anything in spring, you are learning what you are trying to get done and being sharp and crisp.

"I think this thing is really helping him right now," Shannon added. "He is doing a lot better than he was when he first came in last year in August. He is growing and he is getting more accustomed to what we are trying to get done on defense.

"He's showing glimpses of a lot of great things," Shannon continued. "It's like anything else. I always tell him that you have got to keep improving the things you are doing good at, but don't make the same mistakes twice. He is understanding that when we are trying to play our defense."

Spaight can truly see the benefits of going through a spring in terms of knowledge.

"It's been big," Spaight said. "I have just been getting with the coaches and learning different terminology and difference schemes and things like that. Just having this time right now is really benefitting me and the other linebackers as well.

"It is going to be a great year," Spaight added.

Shannon is excited about the Saturday scrimmage as well.

"We have got one thing we want to do," Shannon said. "We want to see how many guys and how many times we can run and play hard. Don't worry about the mistakes, don't worry about the busts, just worry about the hustle."

Spaight believes the Razorbacks' much-maligned linebacking corp is on the verge of turning into a strength.

"I believe it is a lot stronger," Spaight said. "We've got experience that a lot of people didn't have last year now that we have a year under our belt. I see a lot of us getting together and we have a stronger bond as well."

He knows that both he and the Razorbacks have a lot to prove.

"I would say that I have a lot of prove, but at the same time, it is a team effort," Spaight said. "We all have got a lot of stuff to prove. We just need to go out there with a chip on our shoulder every single day and get better."

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