On Sept. 5th, Arkansas freshman weakside linebacker Dre Greenlaw will get the chance to fulfill a dream he’s had for a long time.
He’ll come running of the ‘A’ before the Razorbacks’ season opener with UTEP in Fayetteville.
“It is going to be a dream come true just to come out with my boys,” Greenlaw said. “I am going embrace the moment and look at the crowd and see 80,000 people in the stands and then get down to business.”
But soon after that, Greenlaw (6-0, 230) will have to let that go because he has put himself in position to see action early in the game according to Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
“Dre's been a guy through the first few days of camp that has really progressed,” Smith said. “He's caught on to what we're trying to do defensively. We've always been really impressed with his athletic ability and now we're getting a chance to see him do it against some really good competition. Excited to see that role expand as camp goes on.”
He’s also won rave reviews from Razorback head coach Bret Bielema.
“I’m just blown away by him,” Bielema said. “…I had him in my kickoff drill yesterday and he was the best one in there out of all of our guys.
“It is going to be very hard to keep him off the field. He does everything you asked him to do.”
Greenlaw has added 16 pounds of muscle with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert since making the move to the Arkansas campus in late May.
“I came in at 214 actually,” Greenlaw said. “I am 230 now. I am actually running a lot better and just the tempo of practice has helped my conditioning.
“Coach Herb really emphasizes recovery and when we are lifting to just go slow and steady and it will help a lot with conditioning especially when you are going to a position where you have got to be bigger.”
Greenlaw is one of four freshmen linebackers in their first college preseason along with Jamario Bell, Kendrick Jackson and Derrick Graham, who is spending some time at defensive end.
Bell had never played linebacker while Greenlaw was a safety at Fayetteville.
“I think a lot of it right now is there is some hesitation because a couple of guys haven’t played it,” Hargreaves said. “So when you haven’t played there, it makes it a little bit different.
“But just as football players, the mentality is there and they just need to understand what it is that we have to do at our position and how we do it. It’s different.
“For the guys that haven’t been there, my job is kind of instill in them what you should be thinking, how you should be going about this thing and all that.
“But overall the mentality is there and we have just got to go ahead and develop it and I think we will be fine.”
He thinks playing safety in high school has helped him as he makes the transition to linebacker.
“It is different from just being back in the backfield in high school, but I feel like playing safety and just knowing coverage skills helps a lot,” Greenlaw said. “I can cover just as good as I could at safety, but now I am in the box and it makes it easier.”
Arkansas linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves let Greenlaw know late last week that he was moving up to the second team at weakside linebacker and that Dwayne Eugene was moving to the strongside linebacker.
“I felt good, but I kept it inside,” Greenlaw said. “…We were sitting in meetings and Coach Hargreaves was like ‘change up.’ He was telling Dwayne that he was going to Sam and he was going to put me in with the twos.
“When he told me that, I was just like this is my opportunity and just to do what our do best – give full effort – and it came out to be pretty good.”
He has quickly learned that the speed of the game in college is much faster.
“Usually in high school if I see a run, I am coming down and the linemen are late getting there or something,” Greenlaw said. “Now they are meeting me head up so it definitely is the speed.”
He’s looking to make the next step forward at Saturday’s scrimmage and has a few things he wants to accomplish.
“Just to get a feel for things and understand how it is at actual game time,” Greenlaw said. “Just to be able to use my knowledge from what I learned in something that is more serious than practice.”
Greenlaw and cornerback Ryan Pulley are two freshmen who have already ascended to the second team and Bielema said that several others in the 2015 class are likely to play this season.
“This class is unbelievable,” Greenlaw said. “We have got a bunch of guys that can not only play their position, but another position.”
Greenlaw's Dream Entrance Drawing Near
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