Nutt Gives Hogs A Break

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt left a stern message for returning players after the Razorbacks' 43-14 season-ending loss to No. 14 LSU on Nov. 26.

The seventh-year coach, whose team missed a bowl game for the first time in his tenure, told the Hogs they'd better enjoy their Christmas vacation.

It's the only slow time Arkansas will have after a disappointing season.

"When I'm miserable, I don't know but one way," Nutt said. "When I'm inconsolable, I don't know but one way. It's not a time to be happy. It's not a time to take off. So we've already started (the off-season)."

Nutt and the Arkansas staff gave the Hogs a taste of what to expect when they return from the holiday break on Jan. 17.

The Razorbacks laid out their off-season plans during a team meeting a few days after the LSU loss. Instead of taking a break, Arkansas kicked off its strength and conditioning programs and worked out until final exams began last week.

Safety Vickiel Vaughn said the quick turnaround surprised several players.

"I think a lot of the guys came into it thinking we'll at least get a couple of days off, but we jumped right back on it," Vaughn said. "I think it's now a sense of urgency, put us through this, get us started off, so we know what it feels like. We don't want to be starting the off-season while everybody else is preparing to go to a bowl or something like that.

"I think that's part of the reason why we're doing this now –  to give us a sense of what you're working for and what you don't want to happen again."

Nutt said the Razorbacks don't want to have this much time off again, but told his players to enjoy the extended holiday with their families. He also instructed the Hogs to spend time watching bowl games, especially teams Arkansas played in 2004.

The Razorbacks will return to a brand-new weight room facility that is scheduled to open Jan. 18. Nutt hasn't finalized spring practice dates, but said drills likely will begin in late-March and run through April.

"I think this will stick in the guys' minds pretty big," Vaughn said, "that you don't want to do this again and deal with things of this nature or worrying about this."

Richardson Returns

Nutt said cornerback Matterral Richardson, who left the Hogs before the season-finale, has returned to the team and will retain his scholarship.

Richardson played in the first 10 games as a true freshman and backed up Darius Vinnett at boundary cornerback. The Marlin, Texas, native recorded 13 tackles in a backup role, but left for personal reasons and his return was in question.

"He wanted to go home to Texas," Nutt said. "He felt like he needed to get back. When you're that young, have a baby, the mother of the baby signs up for the Navy, there's a lot of things going on inside your head. We knew he needed some time, but he's excited about coming back. I think he has got things more together now. He'll give it a good shot this spring.

"We wanted to make sure that the best thing for you is to get your degree and running off, transferring somewhere else, isn't the answer.

"I think he finally realized that, and he's excited about being here and coming back with a new coordinator (Reggie Herring)."

Surgery Updates

Arkansas linebacker Clarke Moore, defensive tackle Keith Jackson, right tackle Robert Felton and running back Korey Sutton underwent successful knee surgeries last week. Teammates Jeremy Harrell (shoulder) and center Skye Peterson (hernia) also went under the knife before the Christmas break.

Trainer Dean Weber said Moore had torn cartilage and a bone bruise that required extra work, leaving him questionable for spring practice. Harrell and Sutton also are likely to miss practice time during spring drills.

In addition, Weber said right tackle Zac Tubbs and defensive end Derek Moore continue to progress after sustaining broken ankles on Oct. 5. Neither player will be available for the spring, but the Hogs hope to have them back in time for the fall.

Gone Bowling

Arkansas won't be playing in a bowl game this season, but several outgoing Hogs will be on display in senior bowls.

Quarterback Matt Jones accepted an invitation earlier this week to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He could be joined by defensive end Jeb Huckeba, who was told he's the first alternate at defensive end.

If that doesn't work out, Huckeba said he has been invited to participate in the Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Fla. But he'll likely turn down the invitation to play in the Hula Bowl in Hawaii and the East-West Shrine Bowl in California.

Receiver Steven Harris has accepted an invitation to play in the Las Vegas Bowl on Jan. 22. Defensive tackle Arrion Dixon is scheduled to play in the Hula Bowl the same day. Nutt said running back DeCori Birmingham could play in the Gridiron Classic, and is an alternate for the Senior Bowl.

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