FAYETTEVILLE — Offensive tackle Myron Cunningham is one of 23 seniors on the Arkansas squad this fall.
That is a large number of seniors for a team. Cunningham said at the SEC Media Days on Thursday he likes the experience this team has.
“I feel like it will benefit us, especially because we have all the super seniors,” Cunningham said. “It’s only bringing back knowledge of the game and experience through what we’ve played. The only thing we can do is pass it down to the young guys as we keep going throughout the year.”
Arkansas head football coach Sam Pittman heaped a lot of praise on Cunningham.
“Myron Cunningham is also a super senior that we have, our left tackle,” Pittman said. “Turned down several hundreds of thousands of dollars, in my opinion. We have a process, and it looked like he was going to go high in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft last year. He elected to come back. That tells you something about our coaching staff. Not myself, about our assistant coaching staff.”
What are some of the things you are doing this year to try and get the most out of this extra season at Arkansas?
“I would say sharpen my skills, focus on the little things,” Cunningham said. “Little things that can get me beat technique-wise, whether that’s hands, eyes, reading the defense before the play even starts.”
Arkansas added a couple of transfers from Missouri to help on the defensive line. Tre Williams and Markell Utsey are a pair of older defensive linemen who have impressed Cunningham.
“I’ve seen a big jump in our defensive ends, especially from the transfers that we’ve gotten, with Tre Williams and Markell Utsey,” Cunningham said. “Tre Williams is very twitchy and he’s fast. With his knowledge of the game I think he’s going to be one of our better pass rushers this upcoming year.
“Markell Utsey, he’s very strong. He can play the end or he can play the three. He flips his hips really well. I think he’ll be a great addition to us.”
One of the three starters gone is quarterback Feleipe Franks. Cunningham has complete confidence in KJ Jefferson who takes over at that spot.
“I think KJ brings a great swagger about himself,” Cunningham said. “He’s very — he’s getting more vocal, but he’s very assertive in how he plays. He’s very athletic. He’s just got a great leadership factor, and I think it’s only going to help him.”
With Jefferson more of a runner than Franks does any of the tendencies for the offensive linemen change?
“No, I don’t think the tendencies will change,” Cunningham said. “I just think that, since he can run, like you said, he can run better than Feleipe could, I think we just have to have that in the back of our mind whenever we do drop back to pass the ball. We just have to have that in our mind that he could be scrambling. So we just have to be ready for it.”
Cunningham and his teammates have worked hard this summer during the workouts. Cunningham talked about how those have gone for the team.
“As far as summer workouts, it’s been tough,” Cunningham said. “The Heat gets pretty crazy out here, but Jamil Walker, he’s been working us pretty good. I don’t know, the running is pretty strenuous, so he just tries to focus on straining that little extra bit.”
So far the team has been able to form good chemistry with the squad able to meet. Last year due to so many COVID protocols the meetings were limited to smaller numbers.
“I wouldn’t say it was too hard last year,” Cunningham said. “I feel like our staff did a great job in keeping us close in a tight knit group, but this year compared to last year, I would say that one of the things that we missed is just getting together as a whole team.
“I feel like last year we couldn’t really do that because of COVID protocols. This year getting together as a whole team has definitely gotten us a lot closer.”
Arkansas will open the 2021 season on Saturday, Sept. 4, against Rice at 1 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.