Smith had praise for Arkansas' veterans but he singled out the newcomers as well, like true freshman Bijhon Jackson who has trimmed down from 350 to a more solid 330 pounds.
"He's a player whose certainly going to flash with his pads on," Smith noted. "He's a strong individual. He's a guy whose going to help us eat up some A gaps inside. He can dictate daylight in the center of our defense and that crucial. It all starts there. You need a guy on the center that can disrupt things, and Bijhon certainly has the ability to do that."
On the edge of the defense returning senior Trey Flowers has made several pre-season watch lists after passing on a chance to jump to the NFL following the 2013 season. Flowers expects to get the "Clowney treatment" this season but says it won't be a bad thing if opposing offensive coaches target him.
"If I get double-teamed it means one of my teammates is able to come off and make tackles so if it results in the win of a game that's all for the good," Flowers observed.
Smith thinks so much of Flowers' talent and experience that the top three defensive ends behind him are all fighting for playing time on the opposite side of the Hogs' defense. Each of them knows they will have more opportunities to make plays because of the attention Flowers is expected to draw but with those opportunities comes added responsibility.
"We got to be able to step up and make plays on the other side," sophomore JaMichael Winston admitted. "It's simple. We just got to make plays on the other side."
Behind the defensive front linebackers coach Randy Shannon admitted that he's breathing a little easier these days with players like Brooks Ellis, Otha Peters, Braylon Mitchell and Martrell Spaight returning after a season in the system. But juco transfer Josh Williams has already made moves toward nailing down a starting position at one of the spots.
It's been inside, it's been outside," Smith said of where he's working Williams. "We're trying to find that right nitch for him. He's flashed certainly at times. He's got a long ways to go and he admits that. But he's working hard and we're excited to see if he keeps progressing."
Williams reportedly recorded a 4.43 forty time last spring but Shannon says he was more impressed with what he saw of Williams play on the field, telling the Razorback Nation, "I didn't even look at a forty time. I just watched on film. We liked the way he played."
Of Williams' first day in pads as a Razorback Shannon said, "Josh did a good job of making a couple of plays in the inside run drill but we're waiting to see how much he can improve from today, tomorrow, the next day and Saturday when the scrimmage comes."
That scrimmage will be held on the team's practice field which, due to limited space, will be closed to the public. The media is invited and will get it's first look at the 2014 Hogs.
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