Last year's projected eight-man D-line front might actually come to fruition this year.
FAYETTEVILLE - Stop if you've heard this before. Arkansas plans to use a seven- or eight-man rotation along the defensive line this year.
That was the prediction last fall during the early parts of camp. With, at that time, no star in the fold, replacing Trey Flowers and Darius Philon, the best idea was to swap in and out as many bodies as possible. Most of them were solid Southeastern Conference linemen and keeping them fresh would only help.
It didn't pan out by season's end. At least, not to extent projected in early August. This season, 2016, however, might be different, even with established players up front.
Deatrich Wise Jr., Jeremiah Ledbetter, Taiwan Johnson are all givens. Their starting spots are on lock. Since Tevin Beanum didn't make the team's initial 105-man roster while dealing with personal issues, Karl Roesler and McTelvin Agim have seen heavy reps at defensive end opposite Wise. Randy Ramsey not quite as many, but still some. Throw in former starter Ja'Michael Winston behind Wise and regular interior back-up Bijhon Jackson and that's that. Armon Watts and Brandon Lewis could push, too.
"We expect to start Tevin to join us for sure when school starts if not maybe before," Bielema said about Beanum's return. "I talked to him on Sunday and he was really really upbeat about everything. I would feel good with Bijhon. I would feel good with all the Rs. Mike Winston has had a really nice camp. Armon Watts has done some good things. I think there is a group of eight, maybe nine when you get all the ends involved."
Fallen out of the picture, for now, is T.J. Smith, a redshirt freshman at 3-technique behind Ledbetter and Watts. Bielema glowed about him the spring, but Smith is having trouble carrying his weight at about 290 pounds.
By the middle of the season, some of those will become injured. Some will never make it into the rotation. Some might fall out. Different than 2015, though, the remarks of using an eight-man front are legitimate going forward.
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