FAYETTEVILLE — The Mercari Texas Bowl was canceled, but not before Arkansas had completed all of its on-campus practices.
One of the main benefits of going to a bowl game is the practices leading up the the game. It was beyond disappointing for the players and coaches to adjust their schedules as well as plans to prepare for the game only to see it canceled. But the Hogs did get some extra practices and some youngsters impressed.
Jalen Catalon, Arkansas’ talented redshirt freshman safety, talked about what he liked among the young players in practice.
“I would have to say someone on scout team that’s someone I’ve kind of like seen getting better is someone like Jacorrei Turner,” Catalon said. “I’ve been watching him throughout practice. He’s been doing a great job getting our offense better on defense. He’s been doing a great job of competing. I know it can be kind of disturbing being on scout team the entire year, but for him to see him progress each and every week to get better, that just shows he has maturity at a very young age, just shows him progressing. I just can’t wait to see what he has in store for us down the road with him.
“D-linemen also. Young defensive linemen are starting to step up, make plays through our practice. Our linebackers like (Jackson) Woodard and (Kelin) Burrle are starting to make plays, starting to do stuff. And really the whole young secondary is doing a good job. I don’t really see much of offense. I can’t really see what they do for the most part. But as far as defense, I think all the young guys are doing a great job just stepping in there and doing their part.”
Turner is a defensive back from Atlanta (Ga.) Woodward Academy. Burrle is a linebacker from Harvey (La.) Helen Cox and Woodard a walk-on linebacker from Little Rock Christian. All three are true freshmen.
Junior linebacker Bumper Pool also was impressed by some youngsters.
“Malik Chavis has unbelievable size, I think he’s going to do great things for us,” Pool said. “On the offensive side, the offensive line is so well coached so those young guys, Chop (Jalen St. John), (Marcus) Henderson, I can go on and on. It’s an exciting group that I’m looking forward to a big offseason. KJ’s (Jefferson) not a super young guy anymore but his progression has been really cool to see in these bowl practices.”
Sophomore wide receiver Treylon Burks was impressed with walk-on freshman running back Donte Buckner who is from White Hall.
“I like Buckner a lot, a lot,” Burks said. “He comes out every day at practice and works hard. He runs the ball really hard. We had a couple scrimmages for the younger guys and he showed us what he could really do. I think he has a big future ahead of him.”
Sam Pittman praised some of the younger guys others that others did as well.
“I like Buckner,” Pittman said. “I like the running back. I liked Eric Thomas, he stood out. Kelin Burrle had a really good couple of days in the scrimmage. So those three guys definitely stood out in those scrimmages. That’s good, we had a good time. Jalen St. John, he looked good. It was good, full tackle for 20 minutes running clock one day. Eight inside runs and 30 reps more the next day for the young guys. Really good.”
Thomas is a linebacker from Pensacola (Fla.) Booker T. Washington who also spent time at defensive end and even tight end in practices this year.