Oscar Johnson, my grandpa who was 86 years young at the time of his last breath, died peacefully before daylight came at Newport Hospital.
Pop, a strong, Christian man who was like a second father to me, left this earth just a little more than three months after my dad went to be with the Lord. Tough time for all of those in my family.
Both had a tremendous influence on my life, particular in terms of helping me to differentiate right from wrong early on, and also instilling in me a tremendous work ethic.
I spent several hours with him on Sunday, going over some good old times we shared as he tried to catalogue his life in the ways those who are about to leave this earth do.
The decision I made to do so instead of coming back to Fayetteville for the news conference introducing new Razorback defensive coordinator Reggie Herring turned out to be one I will always be glad I made.
But as I read the quotes from Coach Herring, who comes to Arkansas from North Carolina State, in the newspaper and saw clips of him on TV, I thought to myself this is a guy that Pop would love.
It's clear that Coach Herring is old school -- and my grandpa was all about the all school -- discipline, doing the right thing, working hard and pushing everybody to be their best.
He would have loved to hear Coach Herring drop this at the press conference:
"Defensive players at Arkansas beware," Herring said. "Beware that they will be more challenged than they have ever been challenged in their life. There's pressure that will be put on them on a day-to-day basis.
"The heat in the kitchen, so to speak, will be turned up on this university," Herring said. "It will be turned up tremendously."
Pop would have been saying "here, here, get after them boys. "
One would think it would indeed challenge the youngsters currently on campus and will likely to be a selling point for those recruits that Arkansas would like to have on campus.
For those who think it might scare some away, well, so be it. Maybe those players don't need to be around here anyway.
There are very few great players -- certainly very few who make it as far as the NFL -- that make it without a great work ethic.
Certainly it takes talent, but that can only get you so far without doing what it takes to sacrifice and develop through hard work.
Certainly that is one reason that Herring was able to transform a North Carolina defense that was 89th in total defense the year before he arrived to being the No. 1 defense in the country during 2004.
He's now got another chore -- take an Arkansas one that was 75th in the country this past season
His words have certainly got attention of the fans and no doubt that of the guys that Arkansas is recruiting.
This week's official visitors -- the second wave in Fayetteville in as many weeks -- will get a chance to find out more about him. He's already been on the phone with those who just came through Fayetteville.
Defensive players schedule to be here this weekend are: defensive linemen Sergio Render (6-3, 290, 5.1) of Newnan, Ga., and Cedrick Fisher (6-3, 310, 4.9) of Santa Monica (Calif.) Community College, linebacker Alex Odiari and Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards cornerback Kent Richardson (6-0, 184, 4.45).
They will be joined by Fort Smith Southside wideout Slick Shelley (6-4, 180, 4.5), Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards tailback Michael Smith (5-9, 180, 4.3), Tallahassee (Fla.) FAMU wideout Javares Knight (6-5, 185, 4.5) and tight end Chris Hudgins (6-4, 250, 4.8) of Van Vleck, Texas.
Dudley Dawson is a staff writer for Hawgs Illustrated, a Stephens Media publication. His column appears every Tuesday. Email: Dedsports@aol.com
'Pop' Would Have Liked Herring's Demeanor
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