FAYETTEVILLE – Punter Blake Johnson did not participate in Arkansas’ second spring scrimmage and has been temporarily removed from the team, head coach Bret Bielema announced Saturday.
The redshirt sophomore and presumed frontrunner to replace the graduated Toby Baker is in what Bielema described as “extreme timeout” after rolling his ankle in a non-football activity.
“I let him go home this weekend and celebrate Easter weekend by himself in his apartment,” Bielema said. “I’ll make a decision Monday if I let him back in. When you become a starter, you have a responsibility to everybody.”
Johnson is a scholarship punter from California who has struggled since arriving on campus.
He figured to be the replacement for Sam Irwin-Hill in 2015, but he was arrested for public intoxication in August before his true freshman season. Instead, Baker – a walk-on – won the job and was Arkansas’ starter the last two years.
At one point last season, the Razorbacks listed quarterback Austin Allen as the backup punter ahead of Johnson. It was partly a roster decision to open up another spot, but Bielema was also not happy with his performance in practice.
“Blake had been a little inconsistent for me,” Bielema said in November. “There was a day when we were practicing on our practice field and he punted it on Razorback Road. That’s not a good thing.”
Both of Johnson’s career punts came in the 2016 Texas State game and averaged 47 yards.
With Johnson gone, sophomore walk-on kicker Connor Limpert took the first-team snaps at punter. Jon Fagg, a walk-on from Fayetteville, was the second punter.
Limpert handled some of Arkansas’ kickoff duties as a true freshman last season and Bielema has liked what he’s seen from him as a punter this spring.
“Connor did a really nice job,” Bielema said. “He’s a left-footed punter so it comes out at a very unusual spit. It’s very frustrating for our return guys.”