Tejada No Chip Shot For Starting Job

FAYETTEVILLE -- After kicking a 42-yard field goal to end Tuesday night's practice, Arkansas freshman Alex Tejada turned and got a quick high-five from coach Houston Nutt.



Only a few yards away, Samuel Tejada -- Alex's father -- leaned against a stone wall and watched for the first time as his son practiced with the Razorbacks.

"This is a new experience for me as a father to watch him play at this level," Samuel Tejada said, wearing a red Razorbacks T-shirt with "Dad" and the No. 1 on the back. "I enjoyed seeing him play at high school, but seeing him play at this level is really different."

Even before his arrival on Arkansas' campus this summer, Alex Tejada was called a savior, the type of strong-legged kicker the Razorbacks could have used last season.

But the former Springdale High star, who came in with the type of fanfare usually reserved for a top quarterback, hasn't solidified his place as Arkansas' starting kicker just yet.

Tejada has struggled with his accuracy over the first two weeks of practice. On some days, like Tuesday, the football explodes off his right foot. On other days, the ball sails to the left or right of the goal post.

Returning starter Jeremy Davis, meanwhile, has made the race for the starting job much closer than most fans and reporters expected.

Before being sidelined earlier this week with a foot injury, Davis had shown that he has worked on the accuracy problems that proved costly toward the end of last season.

It turns out the Hogs have a kicking competition after all.

"We're definitely battling right now, but Jeremy Davis is doing a great job. It's a great battle," Tejada said, saying all the right things.

"I know (Davis is) not coming off the greatest season, but I still look up to him, I respect him and he's doing a great job for us and he's going to continue doing that."

Surprisingly, the kicking job has shaped up to be one of the most highly contested position battles during Arkansas' preseason camp.

And Nutt isn't ready to name a starter. That might have to wait until Davis, a Fort Smith native, the most highly contested position battles during Arkansas' preseason camp.

And Nutt isn't ready to name a starter. That might have to wait until Davis, a Fort Smith native, returns from what has been described as a nerve problem in his foot.

The junior visited with a doctor Monday after experiencing some discomfort with his foot, and he missed his second consecutive practice Tuesday evening.

"Well, Jeremy left on a good note and that's what's hard. But hopefully, we'll get him out here before too long," Nutt said Tuesday. "But boy, it's good to have Alex Tejada out here. He's kicking very well, and hit a good ball for us toward the end of practice."

At one time, the assumption was that Tejada would earn the starting job without much of a fight from Davis.

Davis had proved unreliable toward the end of last season, missing several big kicks in close games.

Meanwhile, Tejada had a record-breaking career at Springdale High, and Arkansas' coaches were so impressed with what they saw from the former soccer star that they offered him a scholarship.

Before Tejada, the last high school kicker to receive a scholarship from Arkansas was David Carlton in 2001, and that didn't prove too successful.

Tejada said Arkansas' coaches didn't promise him anything during the recruiting process other than the chance to compete for the starting job. And nothing is promised to him now.

"(The coaches) told me, 'You could come out here and help us out a little bit' -- not necessarily, 'Go out there (and) take the job right off the bat,'" Tejada said.

"I never really expected that. (The starting job) wasn't going to be handed to me. I'm just here to compete."

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