Razorbacks Turn to Haddock

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' new starting place-kicker wasn't even playing football at this time last fall.

Sophomore Shay Haddock said he was just like any other student adjusting to life on a new campus. He had enrolled at Arkansas in 2007 after spending one year as a walk-on kicker at Texas Christian.

"I was just a student for a year," Haddock said Tuesday. "But then I felt like I wanted to play football again. So I came back out, and here I am."

That's good news for the Razorbacks (2-2, 0-1 in Southeastern Conference), who have turned to the sophomore to take over place-kicking duties for Saturday's game against No. 12 Florida (3-1, 1-1).

Haddock — who walked on to the team last winter — replaces struggling sophomore Alex Tejada. The former Springdale High star has missed three field goals and an extra point in four games this season.

"We asked (Haddock) to step in, and he didn't bat an eye," Arkansas special teams coordinator Kirk Botkin said. "He stepped in and hasn't missed a beat. That's been the most impressive thing. He comes to work and tries to get better and he definitely has."

The Razorbacks made the move because of Haddock's dependability in the relief role.

He was called on to replace the shaky Tejada in the second half of the Razorbacks' 28-27 win against Louisiana-Monroe. Haddock responded by knocking two extra points — the first attempts of his career — through the uprights. The second one came with 1:22 left and proved to be the game-winning point.

Petrino turned to Haddock again after Tejada missed a 45-yarder field goal in the first quarter against Texas. Haddock responded with a 30-yarder in the second quarter, cutting the Longhorns' lead to 17-3.

After the game, Petrino said the Razorbacks planned to stick with Haddock. He's been working with the first team this week and is preparing for his first start.

"It means a lot," Haddock said. "There was a lot of time put in, a lot of effort, a lot of hard work.

"It seems like it's all paying off now."

Of course, Haddock knows he must keep producing to hold onto the position. Tejada's unexpected slip from the top of the depth chart is all the proof he needs.

Haddock is confident he will hold the job even though Botkin said his leg isn't as strong as Tejada's.

Haddock's longest field goal was a 49-yarder in high school. But he's comfortable attempting anything from 53 yards and in and believes he's capable of more if called upon.

"If I had to in a clutch situation, 55 or so, I feel like I can muscle up and nail it," Haddock said.

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