Whether injured starting tight end Jared Hicks plays or not, Saturday night against Texas. the redshirt is coming off true freshman Marc Winston.
That's the word from University of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt after Hicks practiced on a limited basis in shorts and shoulders pads on Wednesday while everybody else went in full gear.
"Jared came out here a little while and did the best he could, but it is probably going to be game time before we know what we can do with Jared," Nutt said. "It is always tough when you can't practice full speed during the week."
Nutt noted that Payne Hall (6-4, 236) would start with fellow redshirt Mason Templeton (6-7, 263) coming in second and then Winston (6-6, 238) getting his shot.
"We have got to do it," Nutt said of playing Winston. "I would love to redshirt, but it's just the situation we are in. We have got to get him going. That is a position where there is always going to be some bumps and bruises because it is such a physical, physical position and you need them all."
Winston is thrilled about the opportunity and can't wait to get on the field for the Razorbacks (1-0) against the No. 7 Longhorns (1-0) in a 7:45 p.m. game that will be televised by ESPN.
"That was the plan coming in and that's what I came to Arkansas for," Winston said. "I wanted playing time and to be able to come in and contribute as a freshman. Now the chance is here and I welcome it with open arms."
Arkansas won a recruiting battle with Florida and several other top programs for Winston, who caught 20 passes for 204 yards as a senior at Little Rock Parkview and was also a standout basketball player for the Patriots.
UA tight end coach Clifton Ealy said there was a reason they wanted Winston.
"We know he has a lot of talent and a world of potential," Ealy said. "We didn't bring him in here to sit, but to give him every chance to play. He's going to be a great one and he is learning as he goes along, but he is great athlete and a young man of great character."
Winston knew once Hicks didn't practice on Sunday and especially on Tuesday that he was going to get the call to take off that redshirt.
"I have been deep in my playbook, getting a lot more reps in practice and so now I am just ready to go out there and perform," Winston said.
Winston is not about to say he is fully ready for D-I football, but does say those who question whether he is strong enough to play the spot as a freshman are going to be proven wrong.
"There is a big difference in the strength of players from high school to college, but that is something that (UA strength) Coach (Don) Decker and I are working on in the weight room," Winston said.
"But a lot of things just come down to technique," Winston added. "That's why I am working extra hard on getting my steps down and getting all my hand placements down. Sometimes you can beat that stronger guy with better technique. Plus, I am not as weak as everybody thinks I am."
Nutt was pleased with the practice, the last in full pads during the week.
"We had another good day of practice today and guys really came out and tried to practice hard," Nutt said. "That's one thing I love about this team - the attitude of coming to work, the willingness to listen and learn and trying to get better each day."
o o o
UA officials said there were only 300 tickets left for Saturday's game and that expected those to be purchased making this the first hard sellout since Reynolds Razorback Stadium was renovated.
UA Wednesday Grid Report
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016