Tejada and Tuck Make Case For Starting Jobs
However, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt might have found a pair of new starters during the team's final preseason scrimmage Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 4,100 in Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium.
Coincidentally, both emerging starters are freshman from Northwest Arkansas.
Former Springdale High star Alex Tejada all but secured his place as Arkansas' starting kicker by connecting on 8-of-9 field-goal attempts, including a pair from beyond 50 yards.
Meanwhile, Shiloh Christian standout Crosby Tuck made enough impressive catches during the scrimmage that Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee said afterward that he believes he's found a starting wide receiver in the freshman.
"I think we found a split end tonight. I haven't talked to Coach Nutt yet, but I thought Crosby Tuck was exceptionally impressive tonight," Lee said. "And that's a real good feeling after what we lost two weeks ago in Marcus Monk."
Over the first two weeks of practice, Tuck has impressed coaches with his ability to get off the line of scrimmage, create separation from defenders and make tough catches.
Tuck was Arkansas' leading receiver Saturday, catching four passes for 93 yards and scoring a touchdown on a 37-yard pass from quarterback Casey Dick on the final play from scrimmage.
Afterward, Tuck said all the right things when asked about whether he was ready to play college football.
"(I) feel good enough. We have a lot of good receivers, and there is a lot of people going for those (starting) spots," Tuck said. "I've just got to see where (wide receivers) coach (Alex) Wood, Coach Lee and Coach Nutt think I should be this year and years to come."
Dick and his younger brother, freshman Nathan Dick, looked sharp at times while splitting reps at quarterback. They combined to complete 14-of-27 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
But Tejada proved to be the crowd-pleaser.
The loudest cheer of the scrimmage came after the freshman connected on his second field-goal attempt from 55 yards out. His only miss of the night when his first kick from that distance fell just short moments earlier.
"It boosts my confidence a lot. Going in there I know I could do it," Tejada said of his two field goals of 55 and 51 yards. "At the end, I did it, I feel comfortable and I'm happy with the results."
Tejada showed he has a strong right leg that Arkansas could have used in several close games last season. And his impressive performance came at a time when junior Jeremy Davis, Tejada's competition for the starting job, is sidelined with an injured right foot.
Davis was among several key players, including tight end Ben Cleveland, fullback Peyton Hillis and offensive tackle Nate Garner, who were held out of the final scrimmage because of injuries.
Afterward, Nutt said he wasn't ready to name Tejada the starting kicker, even though it seems almost certain that the Springdale High graduate has the advantage in the two-man race.
"The thing that's tough is Jeremy Davis had a great camp, too, and he got hurt," Nutt said. "We've got two weeks (before the season opener against Troy University).
"He'll be back Monday, and we'll see how it goes. But boy, you gain a lot of confidence with Alex, though."
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