FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ John Chavis is the most experienced defensive coordinator in the SEC.
Chavis had previous stops at Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M before heading to Fayetteville. Chavis has coached a lot of talented linebackers during his time in coaching.
He was asked following Saturday’s scrimmage about his current group of linebackers?
“Where we are at camp right now I feel real good,” Chavis said. “We’ve got five or six guys I feel good about. I’m not gonna single them out. We pulled Scoota (Harris) after a certain number of plays today, I’m not gonna talk about that number, but I’m not gonna go out there and scrimmage him for 90 plays. He’s a proven guy in the SEC. We pulled him and didn’t have any dropoff. Grant Morgan can play there’s no question about that. He proved that all spring long. So there was no dropoff there.
“Bumper (Pool) and Hayden Henry if we were playing a three-linebacker scheme Hayden would be our starting Sam Linebacker. There’s gonna be some games where we don’t play a three-linebacker scheme and he’s gonna be a guy that’s gonna get on the field on the weakside. We’ve got several guys we feel real, real good about. Do we have enough depth? If we stay healthy I feel real good.”
Harris is the leading tackler returning in the SEC. In 2018, Harris had 118 tackles including 62 unassisted. Gone is his running mate Dre Greenlaw who is now in the NFL with San Francisco.
Enter Pool who started four games in 2018 as a true freshman. Pool finished with 29 tackles in 10 games last fall. He looks to take Greenlaw’s place.
Morgan and Henry are juniors who are former walk-ons. Morgan and Henry each had 24 tackles in 2018. Both played all 12 games with Henry getting one start.
On Tuesday, Chad Morris also talked about the linebackers in addition to Harris adding praise for junior DeDe Edwards who had five tackles in 12 games in 2018.
“I’m very pleased with Hayden Henry,” Morris said. “You can win a lot of football games with a guy like that. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. Him and Bumper Pool and Grant Morgan, these are guys that have an edge. They play with a great edge. I’ve been really pleased with the progression of DeDe Edwards.”
Last season, D’Vone McClure, now a junior, started six games while playing all 12. His starts were at the nickel though and now he’s a linebacker.
“He’s working Will and is doing some really good things,” Morris said. “He’s making that transition from nickel over to Will, or from Sam to Will, and it really is more of a comfortable position for him into that boundary spot. He’s a guy that’s an older guy that, again, provides some value in that area. Really pleased with him.”
Redshirt freshman Andrew Parker and true freshman Zach Zimos are also getting reps in addition to some walk-ons.