FAYETTEVILLE — When Sam Pittman lost a couple of assistant coaches because they wanted to go home he went and hired Dowell Loggains bringing him home.
Loggains lettered at Arkansas from 2001-04. He has been an offensive coordinator for four NFL teams, quarterback coach with one and interviewed for two head coaching jobs in the NFL. That was a lot of valuable experience when Pittman was looking for an assistant.
“In 17 years this is my first time in college football,” Loggains said. “I’ve had the opportunity to coach in the National Football League for 17 years. Coaching is coaching. If you can help guys get better they’re going to listen you. Most of them their goal is to play at the next level and it helps you can tell guy this is what it looks like at the next level. I think the buy-in is extremely high and we have great kids.”
Among the tight ends Loggains has are super senior Blake Kern and redshirt sophomore Hudson Henry. Kern caught 20 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 in 10 games. Henry was limited to six games due to injuries. Henry caught 16 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. No other tight end on the roster caught a pass. Loggains talked about having that pair in his room.
“You always want to have a player-led team and player-led group,” Loggains said. “Those guys have played a lot of football here. They have a very good understanding of the offense and what we’re trying to accomplish in that way. It’s a huge advantage to us and a huge advantage to the young guys. Those are the guys we keep telling the young players to watch those guys. Watch the upperclassmen they set the standard.”
Loggains went into more detail about Kern and Henry.
“Blake is a quiet kid, he’s a hard worker,” Loggains said. “He’s a guy that knows the offense inside-out. He’s very detail oriented. He’s got deceptive speed. When you watch him, you think that’s a big guy, I wonder how well he runs. But he’s got straight line speed that he showed a little bit last year in games here and there.
“And then Hud is a guy that I’ve known for a long time, know the family really well. Arkansas royalty, grew up with the Henrys and Lindseys and all of these people, just Arkansas royalty. Just a savvy football player. Obviously he’s got great DNA with his mom and dad and his two brothers. I want him to continue to work on his blocking and improving in that area, but he’s a hard worker, he loves the Razorbacks, and he’s going to do everything he can to help this team. And to both of those guys’ credit, they’re truly unselfish. That whole tight end room is. It’s not about who’s in, who’s rotating, they don’t care about that. They care about helping each other and getting this program back to where it needs to be.”
Koilan Jackson moved to tight end last spring, but was injured and didn’t get to make an impact. Loggains talked about Jackson.
“He’s been injured since I’ve been here,” Loggains said. “I obviously played with his brother here at Arkansas. So, I like the family and I can speak on that. I know the kid has some receiving skills I’ve been able to see on tape in the past, but until you get on the field I can’t really comment on which year is different. Every year, you’re getting better and growing. We just haven’t had the chance to get him on the field and see, so it’s hard for me to comment on that.”
Nathan Bax is a redshirt sophomore who has the size, 6-4, 255, to help the Hogs. He was originally at Illinois State.
“Thank you for asking about him, because we should talk about him more often, as well,” Loggains said. “He’s got a very professional mindset about him. He knows what to do, he knows the right spots, you can count on him. And that’s what I talk about professional, he just knows what to do and he does it. When we grade out, he’s very consistent. He’s the same player every day. What’s really, really important, you guys understand this but a lot of people don’t, the tight ends are expected to run routes like receivers and supposed to pass protect like left tackles.
“There’s a lot that goes into that position, and if you don’t have consistency, it’s hard to deal with and hard to improve. I think he’s a guy who’s gotten better. I’d probably say, it’s not fair to judge, but I’d say he’s our most improved player in that room to this point in camp. He’s done a tremendous guy working, studying. Another guy who’s extremely unselfish, doesn’t care if he’s running with the 2s, the 3s, the 1s, just looking for an opportunity to get better and positively affect this football team.”
Redshirt freshman running back Dominique Johnson moved to tight end this week after another injury to Levi Draper ended his career. How quickly can he learn the position to help?
“It’s not really speeding up, because he’s a smart, competitive kid,” Loggains said. “He goes from playing running back to playing tight end, so he knows the offense. He knows the signals, which is a big part of college football, is being able see it, see the signal, get lined up, and we’re in an offense where there’s a lot of stress and pressure with tight ends. Probably more so than any other position outside of quarterbacks, because there’s a lot of align by assignments. So you have to know your alignments clearly, there’s a lot of gymnastics to be able to get lined up. It’s just those details. I talked to him about it today, I went through with each guy what they need to improve on, and Dom’s was definitely just the details of the assignments, because he knows what to do.” You’ve got to know what to do, you’ve got to know how to do it, and you’ve got to do it under pressure. He knows what to do, and he’s in the process of learning how to do it.”
Arkansas will hold its first preseason scrimmage on Saturday morning.