FAYETTEVILLE — Football will return to Arkansas this week with three practices and also Pro Day on Wednesday.
The Hogs have conducted five of the 15 allowed practices in the spring thus far. They were off last week for spring break. This week they will practice on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In addition, Pro Day will be held on Wednesday.
As far as Pro Day, linebacker Drew Sanders is being projected to go in the first round. Several other Hogs have a chance to play in the NFL. Among them are center Ricky Stromberg, linebacker Bumper Pool, offensive tackle Dalton Wagner and wide receivers Matt Landers and Jadon Haselwood. Others could as well.
As far as the current team, Arkansas has four scholarship quarterbacks competing including KJ Jefferson. Cade Fortin, Jacolby Criswell and Malachi Singleton are others working there. On paper, this is the deepest and most talented quarterback room at Arkansas since Sam Pittman arrived. Dan Enos inherits a very talented group. On thing that is different this spring has the quarterbacks taking some snaps under center.
“We do various amounts,” Jefferson said. “We’ll be under center, Shotgun, Pistol. We switch it up all the time. So Coach Enos also has just told us he wants us to get comfortable starting off under center and just mixing up different things, different footwork and things trying to get us comfortable for this upcoming season. We’ve all bought into it. We’re all enjoying it. It’s going great.”
The next couple of weeks leading up to the spring game on April 15 should see some more install according to Pittman.
“I think in the spring, especially with two new coordinators, I think we’ll probably install up to probably somewhere around practice 10 will be half of that,” Pittman said on March 14. “I mean we’ll be to five on Thursday and we’ll probably quit doing that. There will be situational install with goal line and short yardage and all that kind of stuff. As far as the offense, defense I imagine we’ll be done with about five practices left in spring.”
While the offense has a new coordinator in Enos, the defense does as well with Travis Williams. He also coaches the linebackers and inherits a talented one in Chris “Pooh” Paul. The redshirt sophomore talked about the difference with Williams and Barry Odom.
“Really just the scheme that he brings, things of that nature,” Paul said. “LIke I said, everything is just new for us, but we’re just going to take it one day at a time.”
With Sanders and Pool off to the NFL Paul had Jordan Crook start next to him in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Paul talked about how the sophomore has looked this spring knowing he has a chance to see much more action.
“Jordan Crook has been doing phenomenal out there — running around, communicating and things like that,” Paul said. “But the thing about Crook, he’s come with more energy than last year. He had energy last year, but it just amped up this year because of his role. His role is going to get bigger this year. He knows that. But he’s also been talking out there, being a vocal leader, as well, alongside me and guys like Antonio Grier and things like that. So he’s been doing great and I’m really impressed with him. I’m excited to see him play this year.”
Arkansas added Grier from South Florida and also signed three freshmen linebackers. Two, Carson Dean and Brad Spence are going through spring drills. Alex Sanford will arrive in late May or early June. Paul talked about how they are performing.
“Our linebackers came in ready to work, which I expected of them,” Paul said. “But especially Antonio Grier, he’s done a great job of picking up on schemes and things like that, picking up on extra time with coach and just trying to understand things like that. It’s new for all of us with a new defensive coordinator, so we’re trying to get adjusted to what calls to make to this certain formation and things like that.”
The spring game will begin on April 15 at noon.