Thursday Grid Update, 8/9

On a day when Brandon Barnett finally arrives on campus, it ends with a damper when senior split end Marcus Monk suffers an injury during the Razorbacks' first practice in full pads.

The full pads finally came on Thursday and newcomer Brandon Barnett showed up and showed off right away, but one of the top veterans left the workout injured and put a damper on things.

Senior split end Marcus Monk suffered what University of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt thinks might be torn cartlidge on a big hit from safety Michael Grant during a scrimmage featuring the first defense vs. the first offense.

"We had a good practice, but it is hard to feel good when 85 (Monk) walks off the field," Nutt said. "He probably has a torn cartilage. We are going to go get him an MRI and get him scoped and see where he is. I hope it is not anything more than that."

If it is something more serious, it certainly would be a big loss for the Razorbacks who are hopeful it will be a short time before Monk returns.

"With the way the doctors are now and the surgery, it would be no longer than two weeks, which would be great. That is what we are hoping and praying for."

Starting fullback Peyton Hillis also took a big hit from Grant and was laid out on the field for awhile.

"He got the breath knocked out of him, but he is a tough, tough guy that gets back up and keeps going."

Others who had to leave practice on Thursday were tight end Ben Cleveland and defensive end Adrian Davis.

Cleveland aggravated both a wrist injury and a pinched nerve in his neck.

All those injuries obviously brought up the fact if hitting the stars was a problem.

"Yesterday they (the defenders) weren't aggressive enough," Nutt said of the defense. "We have got to take care of each other, especially the playmakers. Hopefully it is not too bad."

But at the same time you have to balance that fact that this is the aggressive game of football.

"It is the hardest thing there is when you want to be aggressive," Nutt said of balancing how much you hit. "You don't want to be here Saturday (September) the first saying ‘boy we are awfully soft.' It is a fine line, a fine line."

Starting quarterback Casey Dick said the injuries are just a part of the game.

"That is part of football – guys are going to get hit and do different things when they get pads on," Dick said. "You just have got to get ready for it."

Dick, who injured his back in the spring of 2006, says it has not bothered him this camp.

"It feels perfectly fine," Dick said. "It hasn't bothered me one time. I just continue to do the exercises and everything will be alright."

Adding to the defense on Thursday was the addition of junior college transfer Brandon Barnett (5-10, 190) – who lined up at cornerback and picked off a pass during the scrimmage.

"We recruited him as a tailback, but we told him right now that where we are and as behind as you would be because of missing everything, it would be easier if you could go help us at corner because we lack the depth there," Nutt said. "He was good about it and wanted to do it because he wants to get on the field."

Barnett, the former Texarkana standout, committed to the Razorbacks back in December of 2005 and signed in February of 2006, but had to go to Butler (Kan.) Community College instead when he didn't qualify.

He signed again in 2007 and finally got his academic work in order to be eligible on Thursday when a UA committee approved it.

"It's great to be a Razorback again," Barnett said referencing the fact that Texarkana High's mascot is the Razorbacks as well. "It has always been a childhood dream of mine to just come together and be together as one. I am just taking is step-by-step right now and take it in stride."

He made his name in high school as a tailback, but is indeed happy to star his Razorback career at cornerback.

"Coach Nutt said ‘Brandon, we need help on defense,'" Barnett related. "Hey, whatever it takes to help out the team I am going to do it."

Barnett said he knows he will get his shot at tailback later where Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Michael Smith and Torian Wilkins are the first four up right now.

"I know Darren and Michael Smith and those guys over on offense going to hold it down," Barnett said. "So all I need is to come out and whatever Coach Nutt and them ask me to do, be willing and give my best."

Barnett, who had three seasons to play for Arkansas but has already used his redshirt year in junior college, played some cornerback in high school for Texarkana.

Cornerbacks coach Bobby Allen is excited to have the speedy Barnett to add depth at the position.

"Here is a guy that we know is a 10.4 100 –meter athlete," Allen said. "He told me that he is looking at the situation with Darren and Felix and Michael and while he knows he could go in there and compete with those guys, but by the same token I woild love to have a 10.4 corner.

"With his strength and is light on his feet I said ‘will you come over and give it a couple of days and let us evaluate you? If is not for you and you want to go to running back then go ahead.'

"But he said Coach, whatever you want me to do to help this football team, I want to do,'" Allen added. "He has a really good attitude right now and it always hopes on the first day when you come out and make a big play."

Barnett was excited about his interception of freshman quarterback Nathan Dick during in the scrimmage.

"I kind of read the cornerback a little bit," Barnett said. "I'm not going to lie, I am kind of out of shape. Coach Nutt got on me and said you have to get back in shape so that is one of the things I have to work on."

Nutt said that Barnett was a playmaker no matter what side of the ball he is on.

"Ever since he was a sophomore (in high school), he has always been a playmaker," Nutt said. "Every game he goes into you see his bright eyes, he is very active and makes plays."

Arkansas was supposed to start two-a-days on Friday, but has decided to go just once because of several players having end of the semester tests.

The Razorbacks will likely go through a walk through on Saturday morning and then scrimmage later that evening.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories