There is very little doubt that Arkansas sophomore-to-be free safety Josh Liddell certainly looks the part this spring.
The former Pine Bluff Dollarway two-way standout no longer looks like a 190-pound youngster just out of high school, but is now a chiseled 6-foot-1, 211-pound college football player with harm on his mind.
“I want to give a major shout out to the strength staff,” Liddell said. “When I got here, I think that was like 190, but Coach (Ben) Herb(ert)…and all those guys have put weight on me and I have gotten stronger. They have done a good job of getting us ready for the season.”
Although he was one of the last Razorback 2014 signees to get an offer, Liddell saw action in 12 games last season and had two starts.
He ended the season with 12 tackles and one pass break up during the year while backing up junior Rohan Gaines and getting his feet wet.
“I wouldn’t say it (his head) was spinning, but I was just having to get used to playing in front a big crowd,” Liddell said. “It was a great experience for me. I think I did well.”
Liddell is running first-team at strong safety with DeAndre Coley in reserve with Gaines and redshirt freshman Santos Ramirez working at free safety for defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
“Each of those guys bring different things,” Smith said. “ Josh Liddell is like a security blanket. He knows things inside and out and is a great communicator.
“De'Andre Coley is a physical presence. You feel good about the run game and what he can do to receivers coming over the middle.
“Ro you love his experience. He can do things at free and strong and Santos brings those corner skills to the safety position and allows you to man up. They all have positives.”
Ramirez recently gave Liddell credit for being the leader in the back part of the defense.
“Last year I played a little bit so I have some experience for the new guys coming up,” Liddell said. “Whenever they don’t know what is going on, I can’t whisper in their ear and let them know what to do here, what to do there.”
Liddell feels really good about the group.
“We all communicate well, we all pretty much know what is going on with the defense so we are directing traffic with the linebackers and corners. We get everybody lined up.”
“We are doing some good things, but we also have some bad plays. We want to be more consistent.”
Razorback secondary coach Clay Jennings likes the competition he is seeing and how Gaines, who was suspended for last year’s Texas Bowl win over Texas, has responded.
“I think the guy that's responded the most in a positive manner is Rohan Gaines,” Jennings said. “ I think Rohan's doing a tremendous job trying to pull some of those young guys along.
“It could be real easy for any of those guys to be selfish and not help one another and have a little bit of animosity. But the one thing that we've talked about in that room is, you know what? We're only as good as our weakest link. And all those guys in there treat it as a brotherhood.
“There's a lot of heat over there at strong safety. I think Santos is really pushing Rohan, and DeAndre is doing a pretty good job playing a little bit of strong and free. It helps to have a swing guy in Rohan that can play both the free and the strong.”
Liddell Now Looks The Part
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