Free Safety Joins Hogs After Being Cleared

FAYETTEVILLE — Free safety Walner Leandre had a long and unusual first day as a member of Arkansas' football team.

After being cleared to practice at 1 p.m. Monday, the junior-college transfer boarded a 3 p.m. flight from Houston and received a physical exam after arriving in Fayetteville at 4:45 p.m.

Leandre, who is expected to compete for playing time at free safety, sported a white No. 36 jersey at Monday's evening practice.

"It's a real big relief. I've been through a lot trying to get to classes and get eligible," Leandre said. "(Safeties) coach (Chris) Vaughn and coach (Houston) Nutt have been expecting me to come in a long time ago, but I finally got in today."

Leandre wasn't cleared to practice until Monday because he had to finish his second semester at Blinn (Texas) College. He mostly talked with Vaughn during practice and watched Arkansas run through team drills.

Leandre said he expects to get more work during today's evening practice. He's competing for playing time behind starting free safety Michael Grant and senior Kevin Woods.

Arkansas coach Reggie Herring has suggested, though, that Grant could move back to cornerback if Leandre proves himself at free safety.

"It's a big, big lift for us right now," Nutt said of getting Leandre cleared. "We had him penciled in. He's an older guy, a junior-college guy that can really give us an instant impact.

"Again, he's got to learn some things, but we're excited about having him."

Leandre is one of several newcomers who had been waiting to get cleared to join the Razorbacks for preseason practices.

Nutt said Monday he believes running back Brandon Barnett, a transfer from Butler County (Kan.) Community College, will be cleared soon. Cornerback Greg Gatson might not be available until school starts.


Arkansas defensive tackles Ernest Mitchell and Marcus Shavers had to be treated by athletic trainers toward the end of practice, apparently for cramps. Defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, who is rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, was held out of practice. ... Former Arkansas coach Ken Hatfield and ESPN NFL expert Chris Mortensen attended Sunday night's practice.

Practice Schedule

Arkansas practices at 6:30 p.m. today. The practice will last around 90 minutes, and it's open to the public.

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