FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Senior linebacker De’Jon Harris is known as a talented player, but he has added a new aspect to his game during the preseason.
Harris is picking off passes like a defensive back during the first few days of preseason work. He said that he and John Chavis, the defensive coordinator, had talked about that part of his game prior to the practices.
“That’s one of the things me and Chief came together after the season and tried to focus on, just doing a better job in the passing game,” Harris said. “So I’ve been trying to get out early and just had a couple of tipped balls to me from the D-line, just at the right place at the right time.”
Is that what happened on your interceptions?
“That’s what happened today, but my first two was just me in my right spot, just playing the ball,” Harris said.
While the interceptions are good for the defense, Harris isn’t concerned about the other side of the football.
“Nah, it doesn’t give me concerns at all,” Harris said. “We have players on both sides, we have scholarships on both sides of the ball, so things just happen on the opposite side in a bad way. (Says Ben Hicks was his first pick, the last two from Nick Starkel) It was good throws, I was just in the right place at the right time.”
One concern about the team has been the depth at linebacker. How is the depth behind you?
“The depth is good,” Harris said. “We’ve been doing split fields right now. I’ve got the 1s and the 3s over there with me, the 2s and the 4s on the opposite field.
“The younger guys are getting good reps in. We’re building a lot of depth on both sides of the ball with the split fields, so I actually like what we’re doing, the way we’re running practice right now.”
Behind Harris at the Mike is junior Grant Morgan and redshirt freshman Andrew Parker. He said junior DeDe Edwards is the No. 2 Sam now behind sophomore Bumper Pool.
Junior D’Vone McClure moved from nickel to linebacker following spring drills. How has he looked?
“He is looking good, playing fast obviously because he played a lot of ball last season,” Harris said. “Just trying to get him to understand some of the the techniques that well. But he is looking good so far.”
McClure played in all 12 games last fall with six starts. He finished with 26 tackles, two for loss, one sack, three pass breakups and one forced fumble. The move from nickel to linebacker wasn’t something that excited McClure when made aware of the move.
“To be honest with you, at first I was like ehhh, I don’t know, I just got comfortable at Nickel but these dudes been apart of the game for a long time so I had to trust them and it’s going fairly well,” McClure said. “I’m just trying to focus on the little things, me and Chief trying to get together on the little things but I think it’s going fairly well.”
He is playing the Will Linebacker at this time. Junior Hayden Henry is another one at that position.
The Razorbacks are holding a closed practice today as they prep for Saturday’s big scrimmage, the first one of the preseason. Harris said he will be smart concerning how much he plays Saturday and also talked about what he expects from the scrimmage.
“Just limited reps for me,” Harris said. “Obviously when I’m tired, I’ll make sure I get out of the game and get somebody fresh in there. I feel like as an older guy, you need me fresh toward the end of game instead of the end of the game.
“I expect what I see at practice. I’m hoping that the defense will turn it up a notch. I’m expecting to see a couple different things from the offensive side. It should be a good scrimmage, good on good.”
Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, against Portland State at 3 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.