Of all of the 14 defensive backs on scholarship at the University of Arkansas, it appears one has become the clear leader.
That would be starting cornerback Isaac Madison (5-11, 185), a junior froM Dallas Carter who started 11 games, played in all 12 last season and has readily accepted that role.
"Looking back at last year we had some great players, but I don't think we had any leadership back there in the secondary," Madison said Friday after the Razorbacks' second practice of the preseason. "So I took it upon myself to be that guy. It wasn't something I really thought about too much, I just did it because it needed to be done.
"It's a combination of being soft and hard on guys," Madison added. "In my opinion, you have to start by example and that's on and off the field and do things right."
Madison and his group finished up their second workout of the preseason on Friday and he likes what he sees so far.
"These two days have went pretty good," Madison said. "We have made a lot of growth from last year and we are working together as a unit really well.
"This year it's not like we are out there trying to survive like last year, but instead actually knowing the system and knowing how to operate in practice," Madison added. "We know what to do and how to do it and we have plenty of people can do it."
The Razorback coaching staff made a conscious effort to add depth and talent to the roster via its 2009 recruiting class.
In addition to returnees like Madison and fellow starting corner Ramon Broadway, Arkansas now has Jerell Norton, Andru Stewart and true freshmen Darius Winston, David Gordon and Jerry Mitchell to mix in together.
"We have a lot of good defensive backs and it is going to lead to a lot of great competition," Madison said. "As far as game time, we have great depth and if one of us were getting tired and needs a breather, we can easily pull somebody in and he'll go out there and do the same thing."
Madison had 38 tackles, 7 pass break-ups and one interception last season for a secondary that did not have a lot of depth and gave up too many big plays.
"I went into last year with high expectations, but after a decent year and then a good winter and then a great spring and summer, we've got all the confidence in the world," Madison said. "There is nothing that we feel like we can't do."
He thinks working out against guys like London Crawford, Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Reggie Fish keep the defensive backs on the toes.
"They are really high quality SEC receivers," Madison said. "It is pretty tough guarding them. When we do our thing against London or J-Wright or Joe Adams or even little (Reggie) Fish, we know we are seeing the type of guys we are going to see in conference games. It makes both sides better."
The defensive backs are getting a little ribbing from then wide receivers over wearing two green dots and two yellow dots on their jerseys.
They help with hand placement and watching the hips of their fellow secondary members in drills.
"It does," Madison said. "Eveybody knows it is a game of inches and watching the hips and getting good hand placement is going to more like glue to the receiver."
Madison believes that the entire team – and especially the secondary – has bought into what head coach Bobby Petrino and conditioning coach Jason Veltcamp has sold during the offseason.
"It all comes to everything we do," Madison said. "Training right, eating right, making sure you get your rest. I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Veltcamp and his staff, too. They help us get bigger and stronger and have more explosion. We're ready to get with it and be a strength for this football team this year."
Isaac Madsion returns an interception.
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