Jim Mallett had it. So did his three brothers. And it's apparent from the way his 6-foot-7, 248-pound son can throw a pass downfield with the flick of his wrist that he also has a cannon for an arm like the other Mallett men.
"All us Mallett boys, we've always had strong arms," said Jim Mallett, a longtime football coach and the father of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.
Blessed with a strong right arm, the sophomore has spent the past four weeks of spring practice throwing passes that come out at a high velocity and can be heard zipping through the air.
Ryan Mallett has impressed Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino with the same arm strength that made him a standout pitcher as a kid. In the process, he appears to have distanced himself from redshirt freshman Tyler Wilson in the two-man race to be the Razorbacks starting quarterback in the fall.
Mallett will get another chance to show off his arm when thousands of Arkansas fans are expected to crowd into Reynolds Razorback Stadium at 6 p.m. today to watch the Red-White Game.
And assuming he's named the starter, Mallett's ability to put the ball in tight spaces and throw the deep ball with ease could allow Petrino to open up his playbook more than he did a year ago when Casey Dick took most of the snaps.
"Our ability to throw the ball down the field and do some of those things will be much better this year, one, because of Ryan's arm and his ability to make those throws, and two, our experience and speed at receiver," Petrino said, perhaps tipping his hand as to who will be his starting quarterback this upcoming season.
There are plenty of questions that Arkansas must address in today's final spring scrimmage. The once-crowded backfield has been depleted by injuries, and the secondary hopes to show it can avoid giving up as many big plays as it did during a 5-7 season in 2008.
But Mallett will no doubt be the main attraction while making his debut in a Red-White Game. He was held out of last year's scrimmage because of a thumb injury.
"We want to come out here and put a lot of points on the board, and the defense wants to come out there and stop us," Mallett said. "They don't want us to put any points on the board, so it's going to be a battle and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Even though he was forced to redshirt last season after transferring from Michigan, Mallett said the past few weeks have allowed him to understand more of Arkansas' complex offense.
As Petrino has stressed, the offense won't change drastically in the fall. But it could be significantly more efficient — and thus more dangerous — with Mallett under center.
"You got to know what all 11 guys are doing," Mallett said. "And I didn't know all that coming into the spring."
Arkansas wide receivers have also had to get accustomed to catching Mallett's passes, which sometimes come out with such velocity that they can be hard to catch.
"He throws a hard ball," Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams said. "... He's going to put it there; we just need to make the play and catch the ball."
To further illustrate this point, Jim Mallett tells the story of when his son took part in a football camp at the University of Michigan as a high school sophomore.
As then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr watched, Mallett took turns throwing to wide receivers who ran different routes. By the end of the practice, one receiver complained of needing new gloves after catching Mallett's passes.
"Lloyd Carr and I were sitting there watching, and the kid comes back over and says, ‘Coach Carr, these are brand-new gloves,'" Mallett's father said. "He holds them up, and I mean they're shredded on his hands."
Apparently, that's the Mallett arm.
Mallett's Strong Arm To Be On Display Today
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