Liberty Bowl Arrival

The University of Arkansas players - who arrived in Memphis on Sunday - are happy about the Liberty Bowl swag they will be taking home, but mostly just thrilled to be playing in a post-season game after having to watch them all on television last season.

This time last season the University of Arkansas football program had to watch all of the bowl games on TV without getting to participate in the fun.

But this season the Razorbacks (7-5) – who arrived in Memphis on Sunday - are not only participating in the Liberty Bowl, but they will each leave the Bluff City with a TV as a parting gift.

A Westinghouse 19 LCD HDTV/computer monitor is just part of the swag the UA players get to take home after their match-up with East Carolina (9-4) on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

Not to mention a Fossil watch, Nike training shoes, Nike sport sandals, Nike sunglasses and a football.

"Pretty cool, huh?" Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette noted last week.

The East Carolina players – making their second straight trip the Liberty Bowl – can show off the stuff they got last season in a Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder, an Armor Gear backpack and the aforementioned watch and sunglasses.

But while that is certainly a nice haul for a college student, Bequette made it clear that playing in the bowl instead of watching everybody else do is the big deal.

"It's kind of fun sitting around the house for about a day, but after that it gets really old," Bequette said. "…It will be fun to play in a January 2nd bowl game. We'll get to watch some teams play before us and then watch some teams play after us (in BCS games) and kind of look at them and see where we want to be next year."

Arkansas is looking at the Liberty Bowl as the 2010 season opener, not the 2009 season finale.

"Coaches like to say that the bowl game is the first game of next season," Bequette said. "That's true. You really look at it that way.

"Last year – even if he wasn't a bowl game – when we beat LSU, it kind of left us with a good taste in our mouth in the off-season and got us started on the right foot, " Bequette said. "We want to have that same type of feeling and go into the off-season with a win under our belt."

Arkansas cornerback Rudell Crim went to two junior college bowls (also known as national championship games) with Butler County (Kan.) Community College and is happy to keep his streak alive.

"I am very excited about it," Crim said. "I played in two at my junior college so this will make my third one. You are always grateful to a bowl game wherever you are."


NO SURPRISES AS TEAM ARRIVES

There were no surprises as Arkansas arrived at the Peabody Hotel on Sunday evening for the start of its stay for the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl. The Hogs play East Carolina at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tight end D. J. Williams said he used the brief Christmas break to eat a lot and sleep. The Hogs finished their campus practices Tuesday. They'll begin bowl workouts on Monday.

Williams, junior from Little Rock, said he didn't want to make it a big deal, but he has asked the NFL for an evaluation of his draft status. He said all juniors should do that.

"I did file just to get a grade back," he said. "But I think that's just part of it. I think all juniors should do it. Why not? It's just for fun. Me and my roommates joke around all the time. Even one that didn't play that much this year, he said, 'I'm sending my stuff in to just see what they are going to say.' It's just part of it. I wouldn't look too much into it."

Whether or not he declares for the draft will be determined by his round grade.

"I guess that plays a lot into it, to be honest," Williams said. "I've kind of not really thought about it that much. I know everybody is going to say, 'Yeah, right.' But it's just something you can't really predict so why try to waste time trying to do it. So I'm just going to take this first step before I take my next one. That's East Carolina."

The possibility of the draft and scouts doesn't change the motivation.

"To be honest, scouts or no scouts I'll be excited to play in this game more than any other game of the year," Williams said. "It started with practice. You should've seen us out there in practice. We kind of got into it. I don't know if it had anything to do with that special of Miami University. It kind of got us all fired up. We kind of wanted to go out and have fun at practice and that's what we did. We had fun, practiced hard. for the first time in awhile. I heard a lot of the players asking the coach if we can keep going. He kind of looked at us like what's wrong with these guys. but we were having fun and getting work done. So I'm excited to start practicing again and play the bowl game."

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