"He called and wished me luck [this season]," Arkansas RB Knile Davis said of his former coach, Bobby Petrino. "He explained that he was sorry for what happened. I could hear the hurt in his voice. He was very humbled."
In the wake of a scandal affecting any and everyone involved with Razorback football, interim Head Coach John L. Smith has provided a breath of fresh air and a renewed sense of hope in Arkansas. While the game plan may stay relatively the same, the culture of consistency will make the difference.
"[Our culture] has changed a lot," Davis said. "With [Coach Smith], we have a good coach. He brings a lot to the table; but the main thing he brings is balance. He's been around a long time. He's seen a lot of things. We had a chance to keep our coaching staff...so the transition was easier than people may think."
An Arkansas coaching change isn't the only one Davis is facing, as he'll take the field in the fall after an injury forced him to the sidelines last season. While suiting up once again hasn't been an easy task, Davis has adjusted his game in order to stay in it.
"I didn't just learn to take care of my body, but to be a smart runner," Davis said of his injury. "There's no need to try and be a hero. My competitive nature causes me to do more than I need to. My injury has taught me to be a smarter player.
"The great thing about [our offensive scheme] is that we have three senior running backs who all know the system and all know what we're doing," Davis said. "And, we could all be starting somewhere else."
Facing a season with early national title implications and plenty of preseason hype, Davis is insistent upon placing the priority on "team."
"The main thing for us this year is to stay together," Davis said of the upcoming season. "It's my senior year. We need to stay together and do our best.
"For myself as well as the team, going through what we've gone through has made us hungry," Davis said. "I was injured and we lost our coach...it's made us hungry. Seeing all of the articles [written by] people doubting us has motivated us to go out there and do better."
Arkansas opens the season at home on September 1st against Jacksonville State University.