Dick Is Engaged, Confident and Now A Captain

FAYETTEVILLE — Casey Dick admitted he was nervous last spring, even though he had a pretty good idea what the outcome would be.

Sitting in a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Dick waited anxiously as waiters brought out a plate with flowers and an engagement ring on top.

The senior, who took over as Arkansas' starting quarterback as a freshman and beat top-ranked LSU in his last regular-season game, still got a bit flustered under pressure.

"I kind of knew she'd say yes, but I was kind of nervous before I asked her," Dick said of Felicia Davis, his girlfriend of two years.

In a matter of a few months, Dick has gained more than just a fiancé. He has a newfound sense of confidence, an increased role on Arkansas' offense and the distinction of being named one of the team's captains.

Not surprisingly, Dick was the most popular man at Arkansas' Media Day on Tuesday morning. He had 21 interview requests — more than any other player — and he strolled from one photo shoot to the next without much of a break.

"I think he feels more comfortable and then I also think he feels like he actually gets a chance to play quarterback," said Nathan Dick, Casey's younger brother and the favorite to serve as his backup this upcoming season. "(He) gets a chance to go out there and make a 40-yard pass every now then and throw the ball and be a playmaker on the team."

Even though Dick is a senior who's working with his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years, most of what he's doing this fall is new to him.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino actually expects his quarterback to make plays instead of simply handing off the football and avoiding turnovers. That's what Dick did his first three seasons as the starter under former coach Houston Nutt, and the new approach has given him more confidence.

"I think it comes with understanding that everything that happens around here revolves around the quarterback," said Arkansas quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee. "When the game's on the line, he's going to be out there and we're going to expect him to make the plays.

"I think that brings confidence to you."

Dick has never passed for more than 228 yards in a game, and he's never thrown more than 18 touchdowns in a season. He was limited mostly to handing the ball off to running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, which was evident by the fact that Dick passed for only 1,695 yards in 13 starts last season.

But in a sign that Arkansas' players have more confidence in the senior, Dick was voted along with center Jonathan Luigs as one of two offensive captains for the upcoming season.

"It's an honor for anybody who gets named captain," said Dick, who turned 22 on June 27. "It just shows the team believes in you, respects you and just looks up to you as a leader."

Expectations still aren't too high for Dick heading into his senior season. He wasn't voted to the coaches' All-SEC preseason team, and his name wasn't included on any of the watch lists for major individual awards.

Arkansas' coaches were also critical of Dick's performance in the team's first preseason practice on Monday. McGee said the quarterback got fatigued in the intense heat, causing his technique to go "out the window."

But the new coaching staff is trying to correct a glitch in Dick's throwing motion, which often results in him taking too big a stride and not getting enough zip on his throws.

"He knows that we have high expectations for him. He's starting to have those same expectations out of himself," Petrino said. "And as long as he can see the coverage (and) distribute the ball properly, I really think his accuracy and his timing have improved a lot."

There are other reasons to believe this will be a big year for Dick. His wedding is planned for next summer, giving him a chance to enjoy his final few months as both a bachelor and Arkansas' starting quarterback.

"He's getting that married life," Nathan Dick joked. "He's obeying whatever (his fiancé) says. It's horrible."

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