FOUR DOWNS – NOTES FROM PRESEASON CAMP
1. Which Two?
Two weeks of preseason camp has helped Arkansas defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell decide a couple of freshmen are going to play in 2012.
Now Caldwell said he’ll spend the next couple of weeks trying to figure out who among the four-man crew will be on the field when the season begins.
“It’s going to be a tough decision,” Caldwell said. “That’s why I am giving them so many reps right now. We are trying to figure out which.
“My thought process is to play two of them, but right now I really couldn’t tell you yet which two they are going to be.”
Junior Chris Smith and sophomore Trey Flowers have been working as starters throughout preseason camp. Junior college transfer Austin Flynn and senior Colton Miles-Nash have run with the second-team unit the past two weeks.
But Caldwell has often said he would like to play five or six defensive ends throughout the season. That’s where freshmen JaMichael Winston, Brandon Lewis, Deatrich Wise and Taiwan Johnson could help the Razorbacks in 2012.
Caldwell said earlier this preseason the new group is the best-looking group of freshmen defensive ends he has worked with in his career. He added Wednesday they have slowed down lately, getting “kind of leg weary” two weeks into camp.
Caldwell is hoping that changes soon because two may be needed this season.
“I do think they’re going to be good football players before it’s all over,” Caldwell said. “But once we start putting in the whole offense and the whole defense some of those freshmen don’t quite operate at the same speed.”
“This time next week hopefully it will be a different story and they will catch up and their legs will come back and they will be ready to go play.”
2. Holt Officially Hired
Former Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt has been hired as the football program’s on-campus recruiting coordinator. He is filling a position that was once held by Jessica Dorrell, who resigned from the spot in the spring.
Holt’s hiring was no surprise. The coach, who was fired by Washington after the 2011 season, has been observing Arkansas’ practices throughout preseason camp.
He worked for Arkansas coach John L. Smith at Idaho (1990-94) and Louisville (1998-2000). He had two stints at Southern California as linebackers coach (2001-03) and defensive coordinator (2006-08). Holt was Idaho’s head coach (2004-05).
“Nick Holt is a tremendous addition to our program,” Smith said in a university statement. “I’ve known Nick a long time and he has been part of my staff previously so he knows our expectations. He will be able to come in here and fit well within our staff, and he brings a tremendous amount of football knowledge. He is great interacting with student-athletes and truly wants to put them in a position to succeed. I have no doubt Nick will be successful in this role for us.”
The staff position was in the spotlight last spring when Dorrell held it.
Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino hired Dorrell in March, then wrecked his motorcycle with her on the back. It was discovered Petrino had an affair with Dorrell and hired her over 158 other applicants for the position in the program.
Petrino was fired on April 10 and Dorrell resigned from her position a little later.
Holt, who is received $650,000 as part of his buyout from Washington, will earn $55,735 in his new position. It’s the same salary Dorrell was set to receive.
3. Starters Nicked Up
Arkansas went through team drills without five members of its starting defense Wednesday. Cornerback Tevin Mitchel and defensive tackle Byran Jones joined Alonzo Highsmith, Tenarius Wright and Eric Bennett on the sidelines.
All five players were dressed out for the morning practice, but were limited by minor injuries. Mitchel appeared to suffer a groin injury during Tuesday’s practice, while Jones had a cast on his right hand.
Freshman Davyon McKinney worked with the first-team defense in Mitchel’s place Tuesday. D.D. Jones continued to work with the starters on the defensive front.
4. Extra Points
Nine scouts from eight NFL teams (Baltimore, Miami, Pittsburgh, Denver, Jacksonville, Oakland, Minnesota and Arizona) attended the morning workout on the intramural fields Wednesday. It was the largest group of scouts to attend a practice this preseason. … QB Tyler Wilson was sharp during the practice in front of scouts. He completed his first 14 passes during team drills and finished 15 of 18. Wilson hit receiver Cobi Hamilton five times during the team drills. It included a pair of impressive over-the-shoulder catches by the senior. … The race to replace punt returner Joe Adams is close to being locked up by a veteran. Caldwell said running back Dennis Johnson is on top of the punt return depth chart two weeks into preseason camp. Johnson also is the team’s kicker returner.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau