Arkansas Takes Its Annual Look at Specialists

Arkansas held its annual Specialists Camp on Saturday and had some 40 participants at an event that has yielded two signees in the past two years.

In the last two summers, Arkansas has landed an All-American kicker and All-American punter at its annual Specialists Camp.

Although redshirt freshman Cole Hedlund and incoming freshman Blake Johnson have yet to take the field for the Razorbacks, Arkansas’ staff feels real good about the future of those two and the kicking game in general.

The Razorback staff - headed up by defensive line/specialists coach Rory Segrest and kicking guru Jamie Kohl - held its third annual camp on Saturday.

“I think any time that you can get eyes on a kid is great,” Segrest said. “You can watch tape on a kid all day, but to personally evaluate a guy is huge.

“We can see how they take coaching, see their technique up close and personal. These camps are big for us.”

Some 40 campers - including one female - were on hand for this year’s edition of the camp.

Arkansas - which is likely to have only 18-22 scholarships to offer this season - is not likely to offer a scholarship to a punter or kicker.

But they are on the hunt for quality walk ons and you never know what the season ahead might hold.

“We did just sign a punter (in 2015), we did just sign a kicker (in 2014) and we have a snapper here (Drew Gorton) that we feel good about,” Segrest said.

“Whether we end up taking a kid out of this camp remains to be seen, but at the same time we will know who has a chance to come in and compete and possibly be better than what we have or at least be able to push those guys.”

Hedlund, Lane Sailing and incumbent Adam McFain battled this spring for the placekicking and kickoff duties.

“I tell you all three of those guys did great,” Segrest said. “Usually you are looking for a guy that can hit 80 percent or better and all three of our kickers this spring were hitting that.

“In the fall, there is still room for improvement for all three, but I think we are going to just have to see who steps up and gets going in fall camp to see who that guy is going to be.”

Toby Baker came out of spring drills as the top punter, but will be pushed by Johnson, a U.S. Army All-American that is scheduled to arrive on campus later this month.

“Toby made a lot of improvements this spring and I was real pleased with what he did as far as consistency standpoint,” Segrest said. “He has always had the leg strength, but just from what he showed consistency-wise I was really impressed with him.

“With Blake coming in there is going to be great competition and it will make both of them better.”

One of the participants in this year’s camp was the recently graduated Mitch Carter of Discovery Canyon High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Carter, who is likely to walk on at Arkansas this fall, had 61 touchbacks on kickoff last season while averaging 37.5 yards per punt.

He was also 3-of-7 on field goals with a long of 49 and was 68-of-75 on PATs.

Blake Johnson

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