Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema confirmed Saturday that his program will be without two of its more experience defensive backs for the Texas Bowl.
Junior safety Rohan Gaines and senior cornerback Carroll Washington have been suspended for violations of team rules and will not play in the Razorbacks’ Dec. 29 match-up with Texas in Houston.
“Two players will not be with us for the bowl game, Carroll Washington and Rohan Gaines,” Bielema said at a pre-practice press conference on Saturday morning. “I have removed them from the program.
“Carroll obviously is a senior so his last game is behind us,” Bielema said. “Rohan, if he adheres to all the thing we ask him to do, he'll be back with us in January. Other than that we should be full strength.”
Asked about what got them booted off the team, Bielema said he would be keeping that in-house.
“That will stay within me,” Bielema said. “They violated some team policy and I made the decision to remove them.”
Gaines, who had a 100-yard interception return for a score in Arkansas’ 30-0 win over No. 8 Ole Miss, played in all 12 games and had 59 tackles, five pass break ups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this season.
Washington played in all 12 games this season for Arkansas with 17 tackles, one interception and one pass break up.
Asked about what impact the suspensions would have, Bielema shrugged it off.
Not at all,” Bielema said.
Josh Liddell, who started for Gaines against Ole Miss after he was suspended a half for targeting a win over LSU, is the likely starter against the Longhorns.
“Yeah, I think so,” Bielema said. “But DeAndre Coley as well. The way l look at it it's an opportunity for those guys to kind of get a jump into what spring ball is going to look like. Obviously Josh, played six quarters of unscored upon defense in the SEC so I think he is more than ready.”
Bielema also noted Davyon McKinney and Kevin Richardson could also see playing time in Gaines’ absence.
Arkansas coaches will be on the road recruiting for one last day on Sunday and then spend time working on Texas prep while the players go through finals before resuming practice on Wednesday per Bielema.
"Tomorrow we have our last day of live recruiting and then we will go Monday and Tuesday of strictly Texas prep," Bielema said. "We won't have any practice. That will allow our guys to focus on finals. We are getting into a huge week here with all their finals wrapping up.
They will then have practices with the current roster Wednesday through Friday before welcoming in some mid-term additions.
"Saturday during graduation we will have a few mid-year enrollees who will be here through the first day that are obvious qualifiers. So they will be able to jump us into a light practice on that first day with them as well as our freshmen and sophomores that didn't get a lot of playing time and then we are still working on our schedule from there."
The mid-term additions expected to be on hand for practice are Charleston quarterback Ty Storey, Dumas tight end Will Gragg as well as the injured duo of Carollton, Texas, Hebron center Zach Rogers (knee) and Fort Smith Northside defensive end Daytrieon Dean (labrum).
Bradenton, Fla. IMG Academy defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt is home in Denmark and confirmed he will arrive in January.
"I think it's safe to say that the guys who signed FAA's that we talked about," Bielema said. "I can't publicize when a recruit is going to be on campus but anybody that is a FAAA signee that is an obvious qualifier, which is a stipulation that means they obviously are going to be qualified and will be admitted to school. We can participate with them. And we may have some guys on campus that physically can't practice but can take part in the meetings and all that good stuff."
It's still up in the air on just how many mid-term additions Arkansas will have in January.
" I would guess that it's going to be a number higher than 5 and less than 10," Bielema said. "Is that fair? I mean seriously, we're on two or three kids that if we get them, we get them, if we don't we do (something like that)."
Those guys can participate in on-campus workouts, but not any after the Razorbacks head to Houston.
"We will leave on the 26th to go down to Houston," Bielema continued. "We will have an opportunity to take advantage of a couple of days of practice down there. It looks like a great bowl opportunity. The bowl itself has set up a lot of really good events for our players in addition to our families going down there. We have an opportunity to take advantage of a great time slot on the 30th (and obviously a very very good opponent."
Bielema also noted that he was continuing to work with athletic director Jeff Long on raises and more incentives for the current Razorback assistants and support staff.
“We have already set some things in motion with a couple of our coaches,” Bielema said. “What I want to do is meet with Jeff on Tuesday of this week and just talk about an overall look at where we are at and what we are doing with all of assistants as well as support staff.”"
Arkansas hosted its second annual Seniors Banquet on Friday night.
I had a banquet last night that recognized our seniors, a really nice awards banquet that not only our kids enjoyed. It's our second year in a row, but to have some parents that had not had the same experience to where they are now I think it speaks volumes for the care factor in our program. "
Rohan Gaines heads for the end zone on his 100-yard interception return earlier this season.
Bielema Suspends Two Razorbacks For Bowl Game
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