First Bielema presser of the year yields several notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Kody Walker, the job is yours if you can take it.
Every chance in the world will be given to the Arkansas running back to grab hold of the Razorbacks' starting job in the backfield. The sixth-year senior has remodeled his body, shedding pound after pound, to try to make good on his one last go around in Fayetteville.
Injuries and a loaded depth chart in front of him of have limited Walker's playing time in five previous seasons. But with no Alex Collins and no Jonathan Williams, Walker is the most experienced running back on the roster. Coach Bret Bielema is offering him up the job in an offense that almost every year of Bielema's career, has featured a dynamic, 1,000-yard rusher.
And that's the rub. Walker will have earn the job, a verb used specifically by Bielema during Thursday's season-opening press conference. Rawleigh Williams III, Devwah Whaley and TJ Hammonds are all possible starting options at the spot as well, especially Williams and Whaley.
"I think we have to be very very smart how we use Kody," Bielema said. "He's down to 240 pounds … Looks really, really good. Very focused. Very determined. Very excited about being our starting tailback if he can earn that."
Even if he gets the job, don't expect a 250- or even a 200-carry season, unless something nutty happens with the players behind him. Bielema has always been known for spreading carries, even when he had a Heisman Trophy finalist in Montee Ball at Wisconsin.
"If you follow my career, we've never been a one-hit wonder. Even two, but a lot of times three. Three running backs that have added to our program," Bielema said. "I remember one year I think Montee Ball was three yards short of 1,000 yards and we would have had three guys with more than 1,000 yards. That'd never been done in college football."
Bielema had previous announced the transfers of wide receiver Eric Hawkins and running back Denzell Evans. Thursday he added another.
Defensive end Derrick Graham will leave the program after one year. His destination is unknown.
Graham was a linebacker in the 2015 Recruiting class, but never panned at that position despite its need for bodies and depth. He was subsequently moved to defensive end and played there sparingly in the spring.
Sophomore quarterback Rafe Peavey will perform as much practice as he can handle during fall camp, Bielema said.
This comes about three weeks after Peavey underwent "minor" back surgery, a procedure first reported by Arkansas News Bureau. At the time, sources told ANB Peavey might miss the first couple weeks of camp. And it's still likely he doesn't go through every drill.
"I'm not saying he's going to be able to through the whole practice, but he threw, not in front of me, but with the trainers and the other guys," Bielema said. "He's cleared to go. Kind of just depends on how much he's able to tolerate during the course of the day."
Peavey is the No. 2 quarterback on the roster behind junior Austin Allen. Redshirt freshmen Ty Storey and Ricky Town are No. 3 and 4 and freshman Cole Kelley, who tweaked his back two weeks ago in a workout Bielema said, is the fifth quarterback. In that order, those four would get additional rep work if Peavey is unable to fully go this week.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin