Sitting This One Out

Tiny Arkansas redshirt freshman Michael Smith, who looks more Tom Thumb than Danny DeVito, rested himself on top of the grassy carpet of the practice field, located about a 40-yard dash away from Reynolds Razorback Stadium.


Practice had just wrapped up and Smith, a speedy 5-foot-7, 170-pound tailback, was resting his injured right hamstring.

Unfortunately for Smith, sitting out has become an unwanted habit. In 2005, Smith didn't play in large part because he was nursing an injured left hamstring.

Life as a redshirt can be annoying, or it can be rewarding.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt doesn't cherish the thought of telling players they probably won't play during the season.

"It's about the toughest job there is," Nutt said. "They all want to play, and then when they don't play and they go to that scout team, they feel like ‘I'm a failure right now.'"

"That's not true.

"A lot of great All-Americans have been on scout teams. It's really tough. A lot of growth, the maturity level, it's going to help you win."

True freshman Andrew Norman, a highly touted wide receiver from Springdale, knows he'll probably wear a redshirt this fall.

So, how tough is it to have the mindset that you likely must wait a year to play?

"It is hard sometimes," Norman said. "It's hard to lay off football for a year, knowing you're not going to play any games and stuff. But you've got to make some of these practices your games and look at getting the defense better for the games.

"So, I'm trying to look at all the positive ways I can right now."

Smith, who said he's about "70 percent" healthy right now, admitted he didn't like the idea of redshirting last year, but knew it was necessary.

"You know, it was extremely tough, but you grow from it, you learn from it," Smith said. "You realize, I wasn't the first person to go through it, I won't be the last person to go through it. A lot of people come out and have been better for it.

"I'm just a stronger person from it."

Redshirting players used to be in vogue, but not any more.

"In the '70s, maybe the early '80s, I think that was true," Nutt said. "But, I think it's different now, it's a numbers game."

Because of limited scholarships?


"I think now, if they can help you play right now, you're going to have to play them."

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