There’s not just one linebacker named Josh making headlines for Arkansas during spring practice.
In addition to junior-to-be Josh Williams, former Watson Chapel star and redshirt freshman-to-be walk on Josh Harris (5-10, 223) has opened some eyes.
He certainly has impressed fellow Razorback linebacker Khalia Hackett (6-2, 236), who is working behind at middle linebacker.
"People who say he's too short, they better watch their chin because he packs a punch," Hackett said. "He's just an animal. He's all around the field. He's always on the ball or around it."
Harris, who arrived on campus at 205 pounds, appreciates the praise.
“I feel like my hard work is paying off,” Harris said. “I think I have just paid attention and spent time watching film, listened to the coaches and am just doing what I am suppose to do and doing it at 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent all the time.”
Williams recorded 142 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions his senior season and had scholarships offers from Ouachita Baptist, Southern Arkansas and Arkansas Tech.
But Harris – whose dad Jackie Harris was former Dollarway and Louisiana-Monroe star and 12-year NFL player - chose to come to Arkansas as a non-scholarship player instead.
“It actually wasn’t a dream to play at Arkansas, but I felt like there was better competition, I would do better with that better competition and that I could play at this level,” Harris said. “That is what I am out there to prove now.”
He did so with the support of his dad, who played for the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Bucs and the Dallas Cowboys.
"He's a big influence," Harris said. "He played in the league and he's a lawyer now. He's just been a good father to me and he's taught me ever since I was little."
He has certainly earned the respect of Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith and new Razorback linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves.
"Going back to last year he did everything that was asked of him,” Smith said. “Gave our offense a great look. He's got a great instinct and nose for the football. He's studying, working hard and those things are paying off for him on the football field."
Hargreaves notes that Harris has been a pleasant surprise this spring.
“He has done some really nice things,” Hargreaves said. “He just has to keep on making plays and taking care of his body and get himself in as good a shape as he can get in. He is going to be as tall as he is. You can't do nothing about that, but speed and body fat he just has to keep working on that because he sees it as well as anybody.”
Williams is certainly not as imposing as some of the other Arkansas linebackers, but Hargreaves – who has coached previously at Miami among other stops - is glad he isn’t letting the fact that he is vertically challenged stop him.
“Some of the best linebackers I have ever been around have been vertically challenged but they can play the game,” Hargreaves said. “That doesn't concern me. I just want him to be able to handle himself out there and move around and be able to hold his own against the people he is going to play against.”
Harris knows what he has to work on while dealing with the bigger players.
“I just have to use my hands better and my feet to get around them,” Harris said. “I can’t just run into them because I am not as big.”
He is excited about where the linebacker group has come since day one of spring practice through Tuesday’s practice 13.
“I feel like we are growing as a group,” Harris said. “He said from the first day – ‘don’t be surprised if you see a few changes as we go through spring practice.”
Hargreaves has spent time working all of his group at the Will, Strong and Mike linebacker positions so all will have versatility to play in different schemes on different downs if needed.
“We have all just got into the film room and learned our positions and the other positions," he said. "If we learn the whole defense, we want have any problems when they want to put us in and different spots.”
Arkansas' Harris Packing A Spring Punch
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