FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Chad Morris met with the media following Monday’s practice to provide an update on redshirt freshman offensive tackle Noah Gatlin’s knee injury.
“I’ll just give you an update on Noah Gatlin,” Morris said. “We’re hoping that – our plans are for Noah to have surgery this week. He did tear his ACL, which is unfortunate. A young man that was redshirted last year. He obviously got in some playing time last year. But that happens. It’s football. You move on.
“He’ll become a better person and a better player because of it. It’s just some adversity that he’ll have to go through. Hopefully we’ll get that surgery done towards the end of the week and start his recovery and get him back hopefully for some of spring. Then obviously he’s got plenty of years left ahead of us.”
How about the line depth now with his injury since he was competing with Dalton Wagner at right tackle?
“I’m pleased with our line depth right now,” Morris said. “We brought a lot of guys in, we recruited a lot of guys this year, so this happens. We’ll just continue to develop these guys. They’re getting a lot of reps. We’ll get a lot of evaluation out of today. Some pads came on today so we had a little bit of a thud mode today. We’ll go back and evaluate, but I’m pleased with where our depth is.”
Junior Myron Cunningham is competing at left tackle with senior Colton Jackson. He is working some on right side now too?
“We may,” Morris said. “Right now he’s really leaning on that left side, some of the stuff we’re looking at early in practice we may just see how comfortable he feels just to see if it’s the right move for him.”
How have the other offensive linemen responded to Gatlin’s setback this early in preseason drills?
“Yeah, you know, they’re being professional about it,” Morris said. “Obviously very disappointed for Noah. They understand it’s part of the game, that’s going to happen and it’s the next-man-up mentality. So these guys will respond. They’ll come together and respond and pull together and have a great camp and lead them to a great season.”
Junior wide receiver Jordan Jones was absent on Saturday while dealing with a death in the family.
Arkansas now has more depth at receiver. Jones talked about that on Monday.
“I think we’re in a better place,” Jones said. “We got a lot of guys, a lot of talented guys. We’ve got Trey Knox obviously coming in. But we’ve got Mike (Woods), myself, Deon (Stewart), De’Vion (Warren), Tyson Morris, so we’ve got a lot of guys and it’s easier to work those guys in and give us a little break if we need it.”
You are now the elder statesman among wide receivers, how is that?
“It’s different,” Jones said. “I’m now the old guy. I used to be the young guy. I’m just helping those guys out as much as I can when they ask questions.”
In 2018, Jones caught 17 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. Jones feels much more ready to make an impact this fall.
“I feel good about that,” Jones said. “I’m a lot more comfortable in the offense. I know what I’m doing. I line up quicker. That will take a lot of pressure off of me and take a lot of pressure off the other guys too.”
Do you feel last year was maybe a disappointment given your talent is and what you produced?
“I wouldn’t say it’s a disappointment,” Jones said. “I was disappointed in some of my stats and numbers. It’s not all about me. Whatever I can do to help get wins that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Jones was also asked about the quarterbacks and how they have looked so far after three practices?
“The quarterbacks have been great,” Jones said. “They all look great. I don’t really have a preference who goes in. They can both (Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel) sling it and KJ (Jefferson) can sling it too.”
Any receivers show out today?
“Tyson (Morris) made a couple of big catches and Peyton Ausley made a couple of big catches, but I was on that side so I don’t know what the other field what those guys did over there,” Jones said.
Coach Tru Carroll said you and LaDarrius Bishop were the two fastest guys on the team. Who is fastest?
“I don’t want to speak on it,” Jones said. “I told him I want to race him. We will see how it is. It’s just competition. He’s pretty fast and quick too. I think it will be a good race one day.”
Much has been made about the new culture and this year’s team buying in. When did Jones notice the change in culture around the program?
“I took notice of that when guys started buying in,” Jones said. “We started getting onto each other. I think we are a lot closer than we were last year too. It’s just hanging out with a specific group. It’s hanging out with different people.
“Our coaches are doing a good job with the brotherhood thing getting older guys matched up with the younger guys so we get to know them a little bit better. I just think as a group, as a team, we’re a lot closer and lot more comfortable. It’s like a real brotherhood.”
Cunningham is Ready
Junior college transfer Myron Cunningham is ready to help the Razorback offensive line. He has been competing with senior Colton Jackson at left tackle.
With Noah Gatlin’s injury Cunningham has been mentioned as a possible replacement for him at right tackle.
“I’m just ready to play wherever, wherever I can to get on the field as fast as I can,” Cunningham said.
Your competition with Jackson seems to have made him better too.
“Colton, he’s definitely stepped up his game,” Cunningham said. “From what (Dustin) Fry has told me, he’s definitely stepped up his game since I came in here. You can definitely tell.”
You were one of the players who enrolled at midterm. Do you feel that was a big advantage for you?
“Yeah, it definitely helped giving me more time to pick up the playbook, get to know the players and who I’m going up against,” Cunningham said.
Jackson Pissed Off
Colton Jackson was asked about Fry saying he recruited a couple of junior college offensive tackles to piss off him
“I’m always welcome to competition,” Jackson said. “I’ve had competition every year I’ve been here. My spot’s never been secure. Nobody’s spot is secure. So with Chibueze (Nwanna) and Myron.
“Myron is going to come to work every day. He’s a good player and is going to do what he’s got to do and that just pushes me to keep going and try to be one step better than he has.”
You just kinda laugh that off though?
” Yeah, it’s kind of funny but I’m used to it,” Jackson said.
How has Wagner looked with Gatlin out?
“Good,” Jackson said. “He’s been working really hard to solidify himself in that spot. He’s going to be stepping into a big role with the little playing time he’s gotten since he’s been here after his redshirt season. It’s sitting into to him now that you have no other choice. You have to be that guy. Now there is still competition with Myron but you have to be that dude.”