It was pretty easy to distinguish between the University of Arkansas' veterans and the rookies after Monday's first full-squad workout.
While the veterans looked like they had been there before, the rookies were looking for the cold tub, a cold drink or just something to lean on.
"The intensity really picked up with this one," noted Arkansas freshman defensive tackle Byran Jones. "You can see the older guys who have been around here. They were ready to get with it. The rest of us are learning how to get on the same page with them."
Contrast that with junior linebacker Jerico Nelson, who looked much like the old hand that he is.
After practice, he was hardly breathing hard and looked like he was ready for Tuesday's beginning of two-a-days.
"It's just a matter of being ready when the time comes, being in shape mentally and physically," Nelson said. "You learn as you go along here where you have to be when it is time."
Nelson said that the vets do their best to take the youngsters under their wings because they all have to be prepared.
It helps that the rookies are allowed to come in during the first of the summer and go through workouts with the holdovers.
"That gives us a chance to help push them to get ready and almost all of them really took to it very well," Nelson said. "While it's not like practice, it is a way to get used to how we do things around here and how this isn't high school anymore."
Jones, expected to contribute this season for Arkansas, was clear about that on Monday's practice.
"These older guys are bigger, stronger and know what they are doing," Jones said. "It's not like high school. You can't just line up and knock somebody over. I'm pretty strong, but so are they and they have been working on their technique. That's the thing I have got to get better at during this camp."
Nelson was quick to point out that guys like Jones and freshmen defensive end Chris Smith could certainly help the defense this season and so the vets will both encourage and push them.
"We've got some young guys like those two that can really come in and help out and give us depth in spots we need it," Nelson said. "I think when you have the guys we have coming back, the ones who will get a chance to play this season after redshirting and then the new ones, we are looking at being a much better defense this season."
Nelson knows the general consensus is that the Arkansas offense is spectacular, but the defense must vastly improve for the Razorbacks to have the success most are expecting from them.
"Yes, I hear that and I get that," Nelson said. "We are going to be better. I have no doubt about that. It started in the off-season and it will continue in camp. Days like today are when the defense gets better. That's what I feel like we did today and must do every day."
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