Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino billed it as newcomers practice. But the first practice of the season for the Razorbacks on Thursday might have been most accurately advertised as a junior varsity drill.
Not only were the newcomers out on the practice field for the early workout Thursday at 3 p.m., but Petrino included some others that he either wanted to give extra for summer problems or just players that weren't going to get much with the first two units when the so called veterans hit the field Thursday evening.
Included in the early workout with the true freshman were offensive tackle Anthony Oden, fullback Van Stumon, quarterback Brandon Mitchell, cornerback Greg Gatson, safety Jerry Mitchell and offensive lineman Colby Berna and Travis Swanson. Some of those returnees were probably needed to give the newcomers a full squad for team drills. For example, there wasn't a quarterback in the new class.
The total on the field for the early workout was just under 40. That group included a highly regarded freshman class.
One of the eye popping moments came when Jatashun "Big Tex" Beachum lined up at tailback in team drills towards the end of practice. Listed at 6-1, 270 in the UA media guide, it was clear that Beachum has grown into Jumbo Tex. He appeared to be well over 300 pounds and looked more like an offensive guard than a tailback. He reminded some old timers of Richard "Donut" Richardson. Donut lettered at nose guard for the Hogs in 1979-82, finishing as a team captain in '82.
Zack Hocker, freshman kicker, worked extensively as the punter in the early workout. Eric Bennett and Marquel Wade were the top return specialists in the early drill.
Two of the freshman who passed the eye test were in the line group, defensive end Chris Smith and defensive tackle Byran Jones.
This is the first of two reports on the day from HI.com. Look for another update along with photos after the veteran workout, set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Players and coaches will be available for interviews after the day's second workout.
Freshman linebacker Braylon Mitchell works in a drill early in his first practice as a Razorback.
Eric Bennett back pedals in the early portion of practice.
Byran Jones stretches.
Photos by Marc F. Henning
Thursday Grid Workout, 8/5
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