FAYETTEVILLE — Scott Fountain is set to begin his second season at Arkansas coaching the special teams.
It appears Arkansas will have a true freshmen kicking in Cam Little. Fountain talked about him on Monday following practice.
“He’s doing a really good job,” Fountain said. “I think the big thing for him is he came in this spring, so it kind of helped him get a leg up a little bit. A lot of your freshmen don’t make it here until the summer. It was good to get him here in the spring. In the spring he really struggled, but when he got here in the spring, he was field goal, kickoff and punting. Trying to figure out what all he could do for us. We really tried to back that up the back part of spring and just have him focus on field goals and kickoffs. He’s had a really good camp so far. I’ve been really pleased with him.”
What are some of the things he’s doing well?
“He’s making his field goals, more than anything,” Fountain said. “He’s getting great height on the ball. He’s got good operation. His kickoff ability has gotten better. That’s another area I knew coming in was kind of, he can place the ball correctly, but we need guys who can put it in the end zone and out of the end zone. We want him to do that. It’s something he’s getting better at. In terms of field goal kicking, he’s making his field goals. We’re moving it around on him. He’s doing a really good job with that. He’s working hard and has a positive attitude. We’re pleased with that.”
As far as punt returner, Fountain is still searching for the right person there with defensive back Greg Brooks among those trying out.
“Punt return for us, I come from a background as a special teams guy that I always try to find a really good player to do that,” Fountain said. “I think it’s a game changer. I think it’s the one thing in special teams, we talk a lot about 11 guys in the room as effort. I feel like punt return is always effort up front. I feel like we’re getting that from our guys, we just have to have the right guy on the back end. So, we have Greg (Brooks) working back there. We’ve got Nate Parodi working back there, who played quite a bit last year. Bryce Stephens has done a good job for us, the freshman. The (Chase) Lowery kid has been back there a little bit, as well.”
Fountain then went into more detail about how Brooks got into the mix.
“You mentioned Greg Brooks, you know Greg came in this summer and said two things I didn’t know about him,” Fountain said. “He said, ‘My dad played in the NFL,’ which was kind of interesting. And he said ‘Coach, I want to play on more special teams for you.’ A lot of kids are not always that way. So I asked how many plays he’s playing in a game, and he said about 70. He said, ‘Coach, I’ll play on all four units.’ That’s the kind of attitude our football team has had, which is good. We’re not going to play him on all four units. We can’t. I told him that. But he also enlightened me and said, ‘Coach, I can catch the ball, I want to return punts.’ So, we started working this summer, and it’s been a good pickup for us. He’s a guy that can do that.”
De’Vion Warren has long been recognized as one of the top kickoff returners in the SEC, but he’s also coming off a serious knee injury and is needed at wide receiver this fall.
“At kick returner, De’Vion Warren is coming off an injury, so it really gave us an opportunity to focus on some other guys,” Fountain said. “We’ve worked DayDay Bishop back there. We’ve worked Rocket Sanders back there. We have (Myles) Slusher back there who has done a nice job for us. We have (Josh) Oglesby back there. So, it’s a big group back there. TJ Hammonds is in that mix a little bit.
“We started focusing on kickoff returner really late last week, so we didn’t start early on doing that. I’ve got to really get that cut down. I think we’ve got some good candidates, and man they worked hard at it this summer on their own catching balls and stuff. I’m really pleased because we’ve got some guys who really want to be back there, and that’s a big part of it.”
While Fountain is the special team’s coordinator he’s getting a little bit of help this year from Dowell Loggains. During his four-year career at Arkansas, no one could recall Loggains having a bad hold.
“I didn’t,” Loggains said. “I don’t like talking about myself but I will talk about that. I keep telling Coach Fountain, will you let me coach the holders.”
Did he take you up on the offer?
“Yes, that’s what took Kyle (Parkinson) and I so long getting over here because we were sitting there working with a couple of holders before we came over here. I do have that expertise. I’m not good at anything on the football field outside of holding.”
The holder possibilities are punters Reid Bauer and Sam Loy along with quarterbacks John Stephen Jones and Kade Renfro. Bauer and Loy are also fighting it out for the punting job.
“Really, coming into camp it was Sam and Reid Bauer,” Fountain said. “Reid is our returning starter from last year and Sam had a really good spring. I kind of left spring feeling like Sam was in the lead. So we compete in the summer and are competing this fall, and Sam’s going to be fine. He’ll be back with us shortly, but they’re competing and that’s a real battle. The (Patrick) Foley kid we brought in from Nebraska has surprised me and done well for us, as well. The thing that he brings with him, he’s a Midwest kid so he has kicked in wind a lot, and here I find we have wind here at times, and he’s not bad when he’s kicking into the wind, which is a tough trait for any kid.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday.