Arkansas worked for over three hours Monday afternoon on the first day of fall practices of football season. The freshmen and newcomers opened the day at 3 p.m. with the upperclassmen joining the workout after about 45 minutes.
Houston Nutt praised all facets of the workout and was generally pleased with the intensity, enthusiasm and the listening skills, especially from the newcomers.
Nutt said there was still no word on the status of newcomers Cedric Logan, a freshman, and Randy Kelly, a junior college transfer. Both are awaiting clearance from the NCAA. Both should join the squad later this week.
There were no injuries, and it was also obvious that the Hogs are in good phsyical shape, especially at quarterback where Matt Jones and Landon Leach both displayed strong passing arms. Both appear to have sound shoulders.
Nutt and secondary coach Bobby Allen both raved about the first day work put in by the young defensive backs.
"All of the DBs looked good to me," Nutt said. "We thought we signed a great class there, but it may be better than we thought. They don't waste any steps. They can close. They have great footwork.
"The good news is that they are much further ahead than we would normally expect for the first day. That is because they have been here and worked with our older players."
Allen was pleased, too.
"For the first day, it was very good," Allen said. "There is still a long, long way to go, but the intensity and the listening skills were there. Overall, this new group has great natural ability. There is no comparison to what we have had as far as ball skills. This group has great hands. It's obvious a good many of them played offense, too.
"Michael Grant is a lot like Batman Carroll, but he's bigger and has much, much, much better hands. He's used to having the ball in his hands because he played tailback."
It's early, but Allen said it appears Grant is a natural cornerback, although he played safety in high school. Conversely, Rick Culbert, who played corner, will be tried first at safety.
"That doesn't mean we won't move one of them later, but for the sake of balanced lines, we'll keep them there for now," Allen said. "We have a first group right now, but don't read anything into who is second or third right now. We are just trying to keep our numbers balanced.
"Our young DBs knew what to do. I think that Michael Coe and Vickiel Vaughn should receive a lot of credit for the time they spent with those young guys this summer. They coached them up on what we do and how we do it. That made things go better today.
"We have some ability at corner with Grant, (Darius) Vinnett, (Matterral) Richardson and (Shedrick) Johnson. All of those guys have great agility and footwork. Now, it will be who picks things up the fastest. We'll have to look at a lot of film over the next couple of weeks to see who is ahead before we do anything as far as a depth chart. We are off to a good start. But what you see on the field before then will have nothing to do with picking second and third teamers. We are just spreading out the reps."
Nutt called the first day of workouts "a fun day. If heart, attitude and enthusiasm are any indication of success to come, this team will go a long way. It was exciting to get in our first day. It was good to see the passion and enthusiasm.
"Our nine seniors have been great examples for our younger players. I told our guys that it was going to be a long (almost 3-hour) day and they handled it well. We did a lot of learning today because there are a lot of positions open. Our team is in good shape. Coach (Don) Decker has done a good job with them. In the old days, two-a-days and August was a time to get the team in shape. Now, there isn't enough time. You come to camp in shape."
Nutt said because of the need for newcomers to fill many spots on the two deep, the freshmen and juco transfers are probably getting a closer look this August.
"I think we always give the newcomers hard looks, but we are watching them closer this year," he said. "You want to see how quickly they pick things up to see how soon you can put them in there.
"We had some young ones really stand out today. Marcus Monk was outstanding. Weston Dacus and Zach Snider were very good, too. I liked all of the defensive backs. The early part with the younger players went well."
The Hogs will entertain the media Tuesday morning before conducting their second workout at 3 p.m. in the afternoon.
Hogs Begin Fall Workouts
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