Walner Leandre started the day at his junior college in south Texas, but he finished it stepping in at free safety as Arkansas finished its third practice of fall drills in almost total darkness.
"Guys, we got Walner in here today," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "We are glad to get him here and we'll begin trying to get him caught up."
Leandre, 6-2, 215 junior safety, had been waiting in Houston to get his last junior college course stamped and sent to Arkansas to secure his eligibility.
"He'd taken it awhile back, so it was just a matter of getting all the paper work here," said Chris Vaughn, safeties coach and recruiting coordinator. "I've been talking with him through this entire process and he's really stayed on top of it. He'd call me each day to tell me what he was doing and where the process was at. That's what you appreciate about Walner Leandre."
Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring is high on Leandre. He said last week if the junior college free safety was as good as advertised that returnee Michael Grant could be moved to cornerback and play a cover position as the nickel back or dime packages.
"I know it's a win-win situation," Vaughn said. "Of course, I'd like to keep them both at free to give us lots of competition there, but I understand that we might need to move Michael. Right now, we just have to get them ready and it's a good competition situation."
Vaughn said he enjoyed telling the other safeties in position meetings this afternoon that Leandre was on the way.
"You could see their ears perk up because they know his reputation," Vaughn said. "They know that's another talented player in the mix."
Vaughn said he would begin Tuesday morning with a chalk board session with his new player.
"We'll get him on the board and begin to show him the scheme," Vaughn said. "I don't think it will be too hard. Right now, we'll just teach him how to play deep center field."
Actually, that's what the safety did on a few plays Monday.
"I got off the plane at 5:45 p.m. and came right here," he said. "I just got my physical as soon as I got here and then got my stuff and came out. I was a little late today, but it was just so much a relief to be out here. They put me out there for three or four plays. I just played the middle. I think what they are doing is something I've done before so I should pick it up."
Vaughn said the tank-link Leandre is another big body to patrol the middle.
"That's what we want, some big bodies on a hash," he said. "It makes you think when you come over the middle. We've got Matt Hewitt and he's a big body, too. We'd like to get back to that."
Grant, coming off knee surgery, checked in at 182 pounds this fall. That's another reason he might be better suited to cornerback, a spot where the Hogs are thin.
"If that happens, fine," Vaughn said. "We know Mike can play there and it might be what we need."
There may be more good news as early as Tuesday.
"We are hoping to get Brandon Barnett real soon, maybe by tomorrow afternoon," Nutt said. "We are just waiting on paper work."
Cornerback Greg Gatson may take longer. Nutt said it may not be until the start of school when the Hogs hear word on his appeal with the NCAA. However, it should be good news on Gatson, too.
Nutt said execution was not crisp Monday night, but that was to be expected.
"We've gone over some stuff and it's been also three days of installs," Nutt said. "We had some mistakes and you expect that this early. We are hitting a lot of things and it's new for our younger players. We are throwing them into it and seeing what they can do.
"We'll get better and we will improve. We've got a few more days of install. But, I see a lot of carry over from spring from our older players. I see a lot of carry over."
A handful of offensive players ran laps for missed offensive assignments.
The Hogs struggled on field goals at the end of the practice. The field goal period came in almost total darkness. The placekickers made only "one of five," kicks according to Nutt.
"I think the only made kick was from (Alex) Tejada," Nutt said. "It was pretty dark. Maybe they aren't used to kicking in the dark."
Nutt liked the leadership from the seniors. He said he can see the older players pulling the youngsters along.
"I love our attitude and the way we are working and leading," Nutt said.
The Hogs will don shoulder pads on Tuesday for another evening workout. They will have two more days with just shoulder pads before adding leg pads for Thursday's workout. The of the two-a-day workouts comes on Friday.
Nutt said he was concerned about his original plan to practice at 6:30 p.m. He may have to move it slightly earlier in the afternoon since the Hogs had to cut short their workout on Monday because of darkness.
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