Hogs open spring ball with gaping holes to fill, talented newcomers; prespring 2-deep

Hogs open spring ball with gaping holes to fill, talented newcomers; prespring 2-deep

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Coach Bobby Petrino
FAYETTEVILLE - You can watch the Arkansas Razorbacks' opening spring football practices today and Thursday but you won't get to watch practices in the weeks hence once they resume March 27 after spring break.

Of the 15 spring practices the NCAA allows, the UA athletic administration will allow fans and media to view this week's workouts and the scrimmages of March 30, April 6, and April 13 and the April 21 Red-White intrasquad game to conclude spring drills.

When they catch a glimpse of Coach Bobby Petrino's Razorbacks, fans will see a team touted again off successive 10-3 and 11-2 seasons.

Yet, it's a team with gaping holes to fill with the departure of 2011 stalwart receivers Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs, starting offensive lineman Grant Cook and Grant Freeman, defensive end Jake Bequette, linebackers Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson and safeties Tramain Thomas and Elton Ford and cornerback Isaac Madison.

Some Razorbacks, who were forgotten when they redshirted or lingered longer on the bench, get their chance to forge to the front.

Petrino says he views spring ball with a double focus. One, of course, is teaching.

"Then the other part of it is the competition," Petrino said. "People fighting for starting jobs, backup jobs, getting the competition going between the offense and defense. That'll be fun."

Senior All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson, tight end Chris Gragg, center Travis Swanson, guard Alvin Bailey and fullback Kiero Small return as offensive starters. All-SEC tailback Knile Davis returns "100 percent," Petrino believes, from last August's fractured ankle, sidelining him all 2011.

Asked about Davis' condition, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino replied, "Well, he's the fastest and strongest guy on the team, so I'd say it's pretty darn good."

The Petrinos didn't reveal how much contact work they would risk with Davis this spring, but Bobby Petrino remarked, "I mean, he's a FB player. He knows that's what he does."

Defensively up front, the Razorbacks return starters Tenarius Wright at end and tackles Byran Jones of Junction City and Robert Thomas and a host of reserves who played plenty last year plus the return of senior 3-year letterman tackle Lavunce Askew of Camden Fairview who redshirted last fall while regaining eligibility.

Alonzo Highsmith returns as a starting linebacker. Cornerbacks Darius Winston of Helena-West Helena Central and Tevin Mitchell, safety Eric Bennett and senior Ross Rasner, a super sub at safety and outside linebacker, are also back.

As much as he enjoyed arriving in December in time to coach seniors Bequette, Franklin, etc. before and during Arkansas' Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes says the annual progression of seniors moving on annually progresses those who had just warmed the bench behind them.

"Now they have to step up," Haynes said. "There are a lot of good, young players here which I am excited about. The other thing is we are solid up front and it all starts up front for any good defense. When you look at us up front, you get real excited because we are 2-deep. Now we just have to sit there and get 2-deep at that linebacker spot and also at that safety and corner spot. And to me that's the fun part about it."

So third-year sophomore reserve special-teamer Braylon Mitchell of Heber Springs starts spring drills as a first-team linebacker, and redshirt freshmen Davyon "Sleepy" McKinney of Forrest City and Kelvin Fisher and Rohan Gaines suddenly are among the secondary's primary reserves.

Or maybe it's not all that sudden given the extra work they received during the practices before the Cotton Bowl.

"McKinney, Kelvin Fisher, Rohan Gaines," Bobby Petrino said in praise, "not only in the bowl practices, but what they've done since we've been back from the bowl game in the weight room. Those young defensive backs were very, very impressive."

Another redshirt freshman who impressed the staff, quarterback Brandon Allen, opens spring ball second-team QB since 2011 backup Brandon Mitchell just this week resumed full time football after playing forward for the basketball Razorbacks.

Arkansas 2012 Prespring Depth Chart
OFFENSE

WR 2 Julian Horton (Jr., 6-1, 194) 1 Marquel Wade (So., 5-11, 185)
10 Hunter Jarvis (Jr., 5-8, 171)
WR 19 Javontee Herndon (Jr., 6-1, 204) 15 Keante Minor (So., 6-0, 205)
5 Quinta Funderburk (Fr., 6-4, 200) 16 Ryan Farr (Sr., 6-1, 200) 26 Alex Cacciarelli (So., 6-0, 180)
WR 11 Cobi Hamilton (Sr., 6-3, 209) 83 Maudrecus Humphrey (Jr., 6-3, 185)
81 Kane Whitehurst (Fr., 6-0, 175) 30 Bonner Chilton (So., 5-10, 155) 24 Sean Burnette (Fr., 6-3, 176)
TE 80 Chris Gragg (Sr., 6-3, 236) 87 Austin Tate (Jr., 6-6, 253)
49 Brett Weir (Fr., 6-5, 250) 85 Demetrius Dean (Fr., 6-3, 250) 89 Andrew Peterson (Fr., 6-6, 262) 41 Alex Voelzke (Fr., 6-6, 220) 82 Brad Taylor (Jr., 6-4, 224) 49 Austin Weese (Fr., 6-3, 225)
OT 71 Jason Peacock (Sr., 6-4, 305) 69 David Hurd (Jr., 6-6, 300)
50 Grady Ollison (Fr., 6-5, 286) 52 Mitchell Loewen (Fr., 6-4, 285)
OG 76 Tyler Deacon (Sr., 6-4, 300) 65 Mitch Smothers (So., 6-4, 296)
66 Adam Deacon (Fr., 6-1, 305)
C 64 Travis Swanson (Jr., 6-5, 305) 75 Luke Charpentier (So., 6-4, 305)
58 Ray Gervasi (So., 6-2, 307)
OG 67 Alvin Bailey (Jr., 6-5, 312) 59 Marcus Danenhauer (Fr., 6-5, 300)
OT 74 Brey Cook (So., 6-7, 308) 70 Chris Stringer (So., 6-7, 304)
68 Austin Beck (Fr., 6-7, 307)
QB 8 Tyler Wilson (Sr., 6-3, 220) 13 Brandon Allen (Fr., 6-3, 212)
17 Brandon Mitchell (Jr., 6-4, 230) 16 Brian Buehner (So., 5-11, 195) 18 Davis McElroy (Fr., 6-4, 210)
RB 7 Knile Davis (Jr., 6-0, 226) 20 Ronnie Wingo Jr. (Sr., 6-3, 231)
33 Dennis Johnson (Sr., 5-9, 213) 40 Kody Walker (Fr., 6-2, 240) 27 Dylan Cruz (Fr., 5-10, 185) 34 Jimmy Gross (Jr., 5-9, 194)
FB 36 Kiero Small (Sr., 5-10, 255) 35 Morgan Linton (So., 5-11, 240)
21 Brad Shearin (So., 6-0, 240) 37 Brandon Pyle (Jr., 6-2, 240)

DEFENSE
DE 42 Chris Smith (Jr., 6-3, 251) 41 Austin Flynn (Jr., 6-5, 260)
97 Darrell Kelly-Thomas (Fr., 6-4, 230) 94 Will Coleman (Jr., 6-3, 253) 59 Justin Oates (Fr., 6-4, 246)
DT 54 Byran Jones (Jr., 6-2, 312) 51 Alfred Davis (Sr., 6-1, 318)
93 DeMarcus Hodge (Fr., 6-1, 301) 57 Jared Green (Sr., 6-0, 315)
DT 98 Robert Thomas (Jr., 6-3, 308) 92 DeQuinta Jones (Sr., 6-5, 299) 95 Horace Arkadie (Fr., 6-4, 270) 99 Lavunce Askew (Sr., 6-3, 290)
DE 43 Tenarius Wright (Sr., 6-2, 252) 86 Trey Flowers (So., 6-4, 243)
90 Colton Miles-Nash (Sr., 6-6, 261) 63 Devin Bowers (Fr., 6-1, 224) 61 Jordan White (Fr., 6-5, 265)
LB 47 Matt Marshall (Sr., 6-1, 230) 39 Jarrett Lake (Jr., 6-3, 223) 24 Daunte Carr (So., 6-3, 224)
50 Ben Poeschel (Fr., 6-1, 220)
LB 45 Alonzo Highsmith (Sr., 6-1, 233) 44 Robert Atiga (Jr., 6-3, 240)
25 Terrell Williams (Sr., 6-3, 232) 55 Brock Haman (Fr., 6-3, 230)
LB 10 Braylon Mitchell (So., 6-3, 232) 46 Tyler Gilbert (So., 6-3, 244) 48 Austin Jones (Jr., 6-2, 230)
CB 8 Tevin Mitchel (So., 6-0, 192) 13 Davyon McKinney (Fr., 6-3, 190)
17 Dakota Baggett (Fr., 5-8, 170)
S 35 Ross Rasner (Sr., 6-0, 212) 38 Jerry Mitchell (Jr., 6-1, 219)
26 Rohan Gaines (Fr., 5-11, 190) 25 Kelechi Egbe (So., 5-11, 182)
S 14 Eric Bennett (Jr., 6-0, 206) 27 Alan Turner (So., 6-0, 212)
30 Houston Pruitt (Jr., 5-11, 192) 84 Price Holmes (Jr., 6-3, 206)
CB 21 Darius Winston (Sr., 6-0, 191) 22 Kelvin Fisher Jr. (Fr., 5-11, 190)
29 Eric Redmon (So., 5-9, 183) 20 Kaelon Kelleybrew (Sr., 5-11, 180)

SPECIAL TEAMS
K 18 Zach Hocker (Jr., 6-0, 180) 43 John Henson (So., 5-11, 138)
P 14 Dylan Breeding (Sr., 6-1, 211) 42 Crawford Sullins (Fr., 6-1, 180)
47 Cameron Bryan (Sr., 5-10, 176) 46 Forbes Harris (So., 6-1, 185)
49 Derek Rutten (Jr., 6-2, 180) 48 Drew Folgmann (Fr., 5-10, 185)
SNP 53 Alan D'Appollonio (So., 6-0, 201) 62 Nick Brewer (Sr., 6-1, 221) 32 Drew Gorton (Fr., 6-0, 190)


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