By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is on the practice fields for the third day of preseason drills and the heat continues to be a factor.

Arkansas has been practicing around 2:50 with the exception of Friday’s first one that started later. The season opener is Sept. 3 at 2:30 p.m. so these practices are probably similar to what the weather will be that day.

Redshirt freshman Chris Paul Jr. returned to drills on Sunday after only watching during Saturday’s practiced for an undisclosed reason. Paul is one of the linebackers Sam Pittman is counting on being a great unit this season even after losing Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry. Bumper Pool opted to bypass the 2022 NFL Draft and return for another season and he likes what he sees in this group.

“We did lose a lot of experience, but we also gained Drew Sanders from Alabama,” Pool said. “He’s a great talent and showed it again today. He spreads the field and runs very well and is physical. Jordan Crook had a really good day. He’s a young guy, wants to get better and learn. And Jackson Woodard the strides he has taken is unbelievable. I’m very excited for everyone to see this group. Yes it’s different and not as experienced, but it’s a very talented group.”

Sanders was a five-star recruit out of Denton (Texas) Ryan. He is a junior who Arkansas hopes to have for two years. Sanders is capable of having a very good season and go to the NFL after this one year with the Hogs.

Crook is a true freshman and two others, Mani Powell and Kaden Henley, also show a lot of promise at linebacker.

Two Young Ones

The Hogs have two true freshmen at running back in Rashod Dubinion and James Jointer. Dubinion is from Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove while Jointer played at Little Rock Parkview.

Dubinion got a little work with the 2s on Saturday, but Jimmy Smith said don’t put too much into that. The coaches like to work different units together particularly early in fall camp in case injuries later dictate playing that combination is necessary.

“The biggest thing is I give everybody opportunities to go with different guys to see stuff, you know what I mean?” Smith said. “Sometimes you might want to see a certain play. For my guys, what I want to do, I have an inventory of what I want to see with certain plays. If I see something on the script I want to see you run, I’ll put you in another group. Rocket might start it off, but with the twos and threes or the second guy, I might want to see you run outside zone or a counter or whatever I want to see on film so I can coach you off it. So, that’s why the rotation might change up.”

Rocket Sanders is getting the majority of the work with the 1s and AJ Green the 2s. That is how it was Sunday as well.

Back With Jadon Haselwood

Jimmy Smith was the head coach at Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove High School and had wide receiver Jadon Haselwood there.

The five-star Haselwood went to Oklahoma and last season he led them with 39 receptions and six touchdown catches. The catches went for 399 yards. Smith recruited Haselwood to Arkansas in December so the two are back together. Haselwood made a very good catch on Sunday and is one of the reasons there’s extreme optimism for the group despite not many proven among the group. Smith had a quick answer when asked what it’s like to be with Haselwood again?

“You see this smile?” Smith said. “That’s my guy. I love being around him. I know what he wants to do. I know his goals. I think that if he continues to work, he can reach some of the things he wants to do. He’s a hard worker, man. He came in and put his head down. I like what I see in him, and we’ve got good guys on this team who are going to hold you accountable and make sure you do what you’re supposed to do. If you do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll be part of the family.”

The Hogs will return to the practice fields on Monday.