Gordon Learning His Way Into Lineup

FAYETTEVILLE — The recent results haven't shocked Arkansas quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee at all. McGee just knew freshman cornerback David Gordon would catch on quickly.

He realized this several years ago when, as an assistant coach at Northwestern, McGee spotted Gordon in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla. Then a sophomore at East Central High, Gordon wowed McGee with his long arms and with his blazing speed.

But those characteristics weren't the only reasons Gordon impressed McGee. Gordon's high grade-point average stuck with him, and the 6-foot, 180-pounder has vindicated McGee's initial impressions through seven games this season for the Razorbacks.

"He's turned out just like I hoped he would," McGee said. "He's grown so much since getting here. We knew he needed a lot of training, but he's growing and learning and soaking up knowledge every day. He's such a good kid, and he wants to learn.

"He's such a willing learner, in the classroom and on the field."

Arkansas' corps of cornerbacks is depleted headed into Saturday's homecoming contest against winless Eastern Michigan. Ramon Broadway and Rudell Crim could miss Saturday's game because of injuries, and Andru Stewart will not see action because of academic issues.

That has opened up an opportunity for Gordon, the speedy freshman who played a season-high 49 snaps in Arkansas' 30-17 loss last Saturday at Ole Miss. Gordon is expected to make his first career start against the Eagles, a feat many Hogs probably thought impossible when he first arrived at Arkansas.

Gordon admitted his technique was terrible at the start of the season. But Gordon has progressed steadily, drawing notice from senior safety Matt Harris.

"(My technique) isn't where it needs to be, but it's a whole lot better," Gordon said. "Matt Harris came up to me the other day and said, ‘You look like a totally different person. When you first came over here you couldn't do cone drills or anything like that. Now you can backpedal and do things like that.'

"That makes me feel good to hear him say that."

Gordon won state championships in the 100- and 200-meter dash events as a high school senior at East Central High, posting the best 200 time in the country. He will run for the Arkansas track team after the football season concludes.

But Gordon concluded quickly that his raw speed would fail to help him cover receivers if he couldn't master his technique. As Harris alluded, Gordon has improved immensely. He didn't get burned Saturday in Oxford, Miss., and his tip of a pass late in the first half led to a Jerico Nelson interception.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson came away impressed with Gordon's performance.

"David responded pretty darn well," Robinson said. "He was thrown into the fire a little bit. When you don't get that many opportunities, sometimes you get tired. Sometimes you lose focus. And I was really proud of the way David handled himself during that game.

"He responded very well and made some really nice plays."

Robinson threw Gordon into another kind of fire this week, practicing him with the first-team defense. Gordon said that the practices were "so fast-paced," but that he enjoyed them.

His command of technique and understanding of defensive schemes have allowed him to play with confidence, especially against Arkansas' talented first-team receivers.

"I'm used to going with the 2s and 3s (in practice)," Gordon said. "When you jump in with the 1s, you're going so fast. It was something new, and I'll have to adjust to it.

"But I feel so much more comfortable now. Each day I learn something new. I'm still progressing."

Just like McGee imagined.

David Gordon

Class: Freshman

Position: Cornerback

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 180

Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.

High School: East Central High

Notables: Also starred on offense at East Central High, rushing for 535 yards and nine touchdowns and catching eight passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns his senior season. ... Considered going to Oklahoma, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Michigan and Texas Tech before committing to Arkansas. ... Will run for the Arkansas track team and posted the fastest 200-meter dash time in the nation last year as a high school senior.

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