There was good news at the outset of Tuesday's workout when Cedric Logan trotted onto the field. The freshman from Fayetteville was given the stamp of approval just minutes before the workout from the NCAA Clearing House.
"I didn't know it until we were on the field," said Houston Nutt about Logan's eligibility okay. "Louis Campbell told me while we were stretching. That was good news and a surprise at that point in the day."
Logan dazzled in several drills throughout the day, displaying raw speed that will set him apart in any league. He ran past some defensive backs on some go routes.
"I'm not sure he knew what all we were doing because he hadn't been to a single meeting," said wideout coach James Shibest. "But he can really run and he has great hands. He has some real ability. He was with the rest of the guys this summer, but he's missed everything the last couple of days. It's great to have Cedric with us now."
Shibest said it is obvious that the other newcomers are going to help the receivers.
"Anthony Brown and Marcus Monk ... well, I have to look way up there to look into their eyes," Shibest said. "When you are 6-7, it gives you a real weapon. And, both of those guys have great athletic ability and hands. They have to learn things, but they should really provide some weapons we haven't had as far as size and ability.
"I like what we are doing right now. It was almost scary Monday because we had a perfect day without a single bust. We had some today, but that first day was awesome."
Shibest praised sophomore wideout Chris Baker for "making an unbelievable jump from last year to this year. Just unbelievable what he can do now. He was very good both days so far."
Nutt likes what he's seen of the wideouts, noting "we are throwing and catching better than we did at this time last year. I think you can see that we've had good carryover from the pass skeleton that we did this summer. We had a good summer and it's helped us get off to a good start in the passing game."
Wide receiver Cedric Washington left practice early with leg cramps.
"He'll be fine," Houston Nutt said. "He missed the last two weeks of conditioning this summer because of some family problems and you can tell he wasn't in quite the shape of the others. He'll be fine."
Kyle Dickerson bumped shoulders with a defender in a 11-on-11 drill and could not finish the workout, but that injury was not deemed serious.
"We don't have shoulder pads yet, but we still do some things full speed, without tackling," Nutt said. "We call it a co-op drill. That means the ball carrier and the defender cooperate. Sometimes it doesn't work out. You get some sore shoulders, but we do it and try to get a few things done. Kyle will be okay."
While the Hogs gained the services of Logan, they still are awaiting final clearance on junior college transfer Randy Kelly, a candidate for playing time at safety. The head coach wasn't sure it would happen anytime soon after saying earlier in the week it should be a routine matter on Kelly.
"I don't think we will have him soon," Nutt said. "No, I don't think it will be (soon)."
The Hogs had a solid practice, but there were a few botched exchanges between the quarterback and the center.
"The ball was on the ground too much today and that can't continue," Nutt said. "Matt (Jones) was quick to take the blame. They'll have to work that out."
Quarterback coach Roy Wittke noted that it sometimes takes time with a new center. Kyle Roper is a new starter and backup Skye Peterson has only a spring with the UA quarterbacks after transferring.
"I think it will get fixed," Wittke said. "We didn't have a problem there last year and I think you'll see them work that out. That's a problem area that needs to be fixed, but I liked the throwing from Robert Johnson, Alex Mortensen, Landon Leach and, of course, Matt Jones. We threw it well today. Landon was very good today. You can see that Alex has a very strong arm. He's accurate, too."
Protection was solid in the passing game, according to Wittke and line coach Mike Markuson.
"Our steps were right and we were moving good," Markuson said. "I really love what we are doing in our protection in the play action game. We've added some new things and they look very, very good. I'm pleased with the guys up front.
"I think we are in shape. We are much more athletic than we've been. All of our guys have had two good days. They know their assignments. We haven't put on the pads, but it's good to see they understand what we are doing. Robert Felton has had two very good days. He's at 309 and is in great shape. Stephen Parker is playing well, too. So are Nate Garner and Matt Gilbow. We've got some good young ones."
The defensive line had a solid day in their drills under Tracy Rocker. Freshmen Fred Bledsoe, Michael Tate, Marcus Harrison and Ernest Mitchell all displayed quickness and agility in several drills. Seniors Jeb Huckeba, Elliott Harris, Titus Peebles and Arrion Dixon were the leaders in those drills, but it was obvious that the Hogs have athletic ability and size in their young defensive linemen.
"We are doing things right," Rocker said. "We are working hard and getting ready to put the pads on. Now when we do that, we'll so who fights through things when they get banged up. That's when I'm anxious to see how the young ones handle the grind. It does become a grind, too. You know how the older ones are going to fight. We'll see what these young ones have in them."
The UA defensive linemen work.
There is new practice field landscaping.
A father and his sons watch a practice from the parking lot.
Tracy Rocker gets a ride on the sled.
Photos by Clay Henry
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