Hogs Open Fall Drills

Houston Nutt was pleased with Arkansas' opening day of football practice as the Razorback head coach called it one of the Hogs' best "first days." The newcomers drew plenty of praise and the varsity appeared fit.

Mark Pierce was among the first to hit the practice field Monday, joining the newcomerson the field for some early stretching in the early practice.

Chris Baker, Willie Hordge, Landon Leach and Robert Johnson made impressive debuts with the newcomers as the Hogs were greeted by showers early in the varsity workout and had to finish their first day inside Walker Pavilion.

Pierce, who went home midway through the summer to address emotional problems, made it through the workout in fine fashion, including the 20-minute conditioning drill afterwards.

Houston Nut kept the junior fullback away from the media, asking the reporters to wait until Tuesday's media day before doing any interviews with Pierce.

"Mark arrived last night," Nutt said. "I met with him and he seemed ready to go. He's doing well. As for the running, I watched him because we didn't know what he'd done and he was fine."

Nutt also said Shawn Andrews and Jason Peters may not be in perfect condition, but both are ahead of what some predicted.

"Shawn has lost some weight," Nutt said. "I'm not sure exactly but we are going to get him on the scales in a few minutes so we can monitor his fluid loss each day. We'll know more then. But, he's lighter and he made it through our running. He needs to get in better shape, but he's not in bad shape. Jason Peters didn't make all the times today, but he did pretty well. He's a little big right now."

Matt Jones opened with the first team, but also took plenty of snaps at wide receiver. QB coach Roy Wittke said that Jones spent all of his meeting time on Monday with the quarterbacks.

"We scripted Matt's practice and he was able to move to where he needed to be without prompting from the coaches," Wittke said. "Matt's shoulder is stronger from where it was in the spring. He looked good today, especially early when he was mainly with the quarterbacks."

Wittke was extremely impressed with the freshmen quarterbacks, Landon Leach and Robert Johnson.

"They both have plenty of arm for this league," Wittke said. "It is easy to see why Landon had such success. He has had great coaching. He understands what we are doing. He is sound and has great feet and is very, very smooth.

"Robert Johnson has a little stronger arm and is just physically a little bigger and stronger. He is not as polished as Landon, but he has a great arm.

"What I see in both Robert and Landon is that they both are confident and have great character. They are leaders. I am as impressed as those two as young men as I am with their football ability. They are both eager and anxious and did not do one thing to disappoint me."

Nutt was pleased with his young QBs, and also liked what he saw from wideouts Willie Hordge and Chris Baker.

"Those guys give us some speed at wide receiver we have been looking for," Nutt said. "Both of them looked good today.

"I also liked to see those big offensive linemen. That's a nice group.

"Really, we had a good day today. It may have been our best first day. We really ran them hard at the end and it's clear that our team is in pretty good shape. Our seniors have taken charge of this team and shown ownership. They got this team in shape with their workouts this summer. We ran them as hard as we've ever run them on a first day and we didn't have guys dropping out.

"There were a lot of guys who stood out. Jeb Huckeba was really flying around. I thought guys like Clarke Moore, Arrion Dixon, those senior offensive linemen and Marvin Jackson really looked good. Marvin and the guys coming off surgery like Tony Bua looked very good today. They all looked like they have come back fine."

Nutt said Wes Murphy is still waiting for doctors to make a final ruling on his football future. The sophomore defensive end was diagnosed with an enlarged heart.

"It may be a couple more days before we know on Wes," Nutt said. "We are still hopeful that he could be with us this year."

Mike Markuson praised his senior offensive line, but said there were some other bright spots Monday, including the play of Tony Ugoh.

"Tony was intense in all phases today," Markuson said. "I really thought he came out to show us something today. I liked his intensity more than anything else."

Batman Carroll stretches with his new adidas shoes and a shiny, metalic helmet.

Mark Pierce was among the first players to take the field Monday.

Jason Peters stretches in warmups Monday.

George Wilson stretches before Monday's workout.

Houston Nutt gathers the team around him before Monday's opening workout.

Shawn Andrews steps to the line of scrimmage before a play.

Matt Jones calls out the signals.

George Wilson and Matt Jones prepare for a day of work.

Photos by Clay Henry

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