Thursday Cotton Bowl Update, 12/27

Arkansas began its serious Cotton Bowl preparations amid rumors of a potential serious situation in regards to star tailback Darren McFadden.

Robert Johnson remembers playing a high school basketball game with an assistant coach from Missouri in the stands.

"He was there to recruit me to play quarterback for the Tigers," Johnson said. "How ironic it is now that I'm going to play against that team and it's in Texas."

Johnson, senior wide receiver from Waco, Texas, will play his final game for Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl on Tuesday. And, yes, it will be against those Missouri Tigers.

"It's been a great time at Arkansas," Johnson said. "I have no regrets. I am happy that I went to Arkansas. It's been great for me."

Johnson thinks it perfect that he'll go out in the Cotton Bowl.

"It's been a long time since I've played a game in Texas," he said. "I'm excited about that. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Johnson has been nursing a leg injury over the last two months of the season, an injury that some referenced as an ankle sprain.

"I really didn't call it what it was because it didn't matter," Johnson said. "It's really a stress fracture. I said it was a high ankle injury and some took that and ran with it that it was a high ankle sprain. It's a stress fracture of the leg bone, the high ankle area. Really, I didn't care what they called it.

"But if you want to be accurate about it, that's what it is, a stress fracture. I didn't correct anyone. I just let them say what they wanted and kept going."

Johnson wore a boot on his injured leg and sat out many practices over the last few weeks of the season, but was usually ready for games.

"We are all feeling pretty good down here," Johnson said. "We are all healthy."

That goes for Marcus Monk, another senior wide receiver nursing a leg injury. But he seemed close to full speed Thursday when the Hogs practiced.

"I don't even think about my knee any more, at least I haven't down here," Monk said. "I feel very good."

• • •

Arkansas assistant athletic director Kevin Trainor issued a statement Thursday evening acknowledging that the school is checking out a report that star tailback Darren McFadden's family has taken possession of a new Escalade sport utility vehicle recently. That could be a violation of NCAA rules if it was a gift from a potential agent.

Marvin Caston, assistant athletic director for compliance, said his office became aware of the report late Thursday afternoon. He said his office routinely checks out rumors. Caston said, "We hear a lot of rumors and we check them all out."

Darren McFadden warms up at Cotton Bowl practice.

Reggie Herring shouts instructions to the offense in Dallas practices Thursday.

Nate Garner (75) visits with athletic director Frank Broyles after practice Thursday.

Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated

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