Soon after new University of Arkansas defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell arrived on the scene, he identified his leader.
That would be junior-to-be Jake Bequette (6-5, 275), who Wednesday joined his Razorback teammates in going through the second of 15 spring practices.
"The thing about Jake Bequette is that not only is he leader on the field, he is a leader off the field in the (football) classroom and in the example he sits for everybody around him is just tremendous," Caldwell said.
"What he is doing on the field right now, he is like having a coach on the field," Caldwell added. "He can tell them what to do all way across the front. I told him when we started that he had to be in that position, he had to be like my coach on the field. That's what I want out of him – to help those guys if they do have a question about something."
Bequette is a big fan of Caldwell, who was on a Tennessee staff that won a national championship.
"Coach Caldwell brings a lot of experience," Bequette said. "He spent many years at Tennessee, won a national championship there and coached a bunch of first-round draft picks. That's all you need to know. He knows what it takes to win. He knows what it take to advance to the next level so I am just trying to soak all that in.
"Above all that, he is a great man, a family man, a Christian man," Bequette continued. "He is a good leader to look up to."
He is also a guy with attention to detail per Bequette.
"Right off the bat, he kind of watched our film from last year and saw some adjustments that he wanted to make in our stances," Bequette said. " A lot of his stuff is pre-snap. He wants you to be in the same alignment and the same stance every snap. He also wants you to adjust to formations."
Bequette arrived as a 235-pound prospect and now sports 275 pounds on his frame.
"I have been blessed," Bequette said. "When I came in as a true freshmen, I didn't even know if I was going to play offense or defense. I have gained 40 something pounds since I have been here, worked real hard in the weight room and it has been nice to see that worked pay off on the field."
While Tenarius Wright (6-1, 241) is missing spring practice of injury, Bequette is being joined in the mix by Caleb Evans (6-4, 254), Damario Ambrose (6-5, 270), Colton Nash and Ryan Calendar (6-7, 241).
"It's too bad that Tank (Wright) got hurt, but he is going to be a big-time player for us this year on the field," Bequette said. "I can't wait to get him back, but it is a blessing in disguise for those other guys like Caleb Evans, Colton Nash – who are all talented guys, but young - in that they get some extra work."
Evans worked with the first team on Tuesday.
"He is coming along real well," Caldwell said. "We throw a lot of things at him. We have a number of defenses and I think he is doing a good job. He is trying to concentrate on those little things and, of course, I am very particular about those little things. Not just the scheme, but the steps and all that.
"The thing about Caleb is that he wants to learn so bad, he wants to do the right thing," Caldwell added. "At some point, I have to be smart enough to back off and let him go play, too, because he is a great athlete."
Nash showed a feisty side in an on-field scuffle with offensive lineman Anthony Oden.
Caldwell said it is something he liked seeing.
"It is," Caldwell said. "I told him you just have to be smart about it because you can get kicked out of the ballgame. But when you get those guys out there and they compete that way, that's exciting. It is exciting to watch them compete. They'll be a scuffle on the field every now and then and you like to see that."
Bequette likes the way the defense has performed so far in the two practices.
"You can't really do everything with just helmets on, but I like the way we have come out, especially on defense," Bequette said. "We have been working with intensity, running to the football."
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