Hogs fill their needs with DBs

Bobby Allen "couldn't be more excited" with his group of new candidates in the secondary on signing day. Included in Arkansas' 30 new signees were as many as 10 who will get a quick look in the secondary.

Arkansas secondary coach Bobby Allen sat on the steps in the team meeting room of the Broyles Center as head coach Houston Nutt showed the video highlights of the newest class of Hog recruits. It was hard for Allen to keep from sighing with relief after player after player popped on the video screen with the designation of S, CB, DB or ATH under his name.

Oh, Allen already knew all about them. He recruited many of them with the promise that they would get a quick look in Arkansas' secondary in August. It was just nice to see them again on film.

"I couldn't be more excited for what we got in this group (in the secondary)," Allen said. "These guys are going to be second teamers already by default and some might start."

It was easier for Allen to name the returning candidates in the secondary. They are so few.

"We lost eight players in the secondary to either graduation or the NFL draft," Allen said. "We don't have hardly anything coming back for this spring. I don't know how we can even line up for spring practice.

"Let's see, we'll have Vickiel Vaughn, Lerinezo Robinson and Michael Coe that played some last year, and Coe has a bad shoulder right now," Allen said. "We have Chris Houston and Kevin Woods that redshirted. That's it!"

So it was with relief that Allen named the new recruits he wants to give a look in the secondary in the fall. There is Rick Culbert, Shedrick Johnson, Randy Kelly, Cedric Logan, Matteral Richardson, Darius Vinett, Dallas Washington, Desmond Williams and D'Nerian Wrighter.

"The fact that we could tell them about immediate playing time in the secondary helped us," Allen said. "It also helps that we play the type of defense that puts five DB kind of guys on the field in a lot of our schemes. They can see that we need cover guys to play the way we like to play.

"We also told them that we lost so many players who were in special teams. These guys are going to be on the field and they may get in 100 snaps in special teams over the year even if they don't start. And, with our nickel packages, I'm betting a lot of these guys play next year."

They seemed to be equipped to play early. There is plenty of speed, size and physical ability. All three areas were important in Allen's evaluation process over the past year with this class.

"I look at character first, speed next and we want size along with that," Allen said. "But what I really look for is strikability. We want guys who will hit you like the guys we've had here in the past. That's the one thing we know about the guys we have for the spring. Guys like Chris Houston and Kevin Woods haven't played, but we know they will hit you. These guys we signed will hit you. Except for Darius Vinnett, they all have good size, too. And Vinnett has that changability like Lawrence Richardson, those amazing quick feet.

"The productivity might be in several areas, too. I don't just look at productivity from the defensive side. I want guys who have had the ball in their hands. Some of these were tailbacks, just like say Kenny Hamlin and Caleb Miller. They have played in pressure situations and like the ball in their hands. They know what to do. They have great, great ball skills, every one of them. They make plays. That's what I love about all of them."

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