Hogs: In-state frosh to clutter 2-deep; more notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas unveils its two-deep depth chart today when head coach Bret Bielema, offensive coordinator Dan Enos and defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads meet with media.
The Razorbacks open the season Thursday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock against underdog Florida A&M of the lower (FCS) division MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
Bielema said Wednesday the true freshmen who will be backups or likely play a role in Thursday’s game include running back Chase Hayden of Collierville, Tenn.; right offensive guard Ty Clary of Fayetteville; and possibly wide receivers Koilan Jackson of Joe T. Robinson; Jarrod Barnes of Cabot and De’Vion Warren of Monroe, La.
Jackson’s one-handed touchdown catch during the first Razorbacks’ preseason scrimmage drew immediate attention as did Warren’s potential to help on special teams, but Barnes has quietly entered the play-right-away picture, too.
“Jarrod Barnes has really come on lately,” Bielema said.
However, if senior Jared Cornelius and sophomore T.J. Hammonds (both coming off injuries) can return, one or more of the freshman receivers could redshirt.
Bielema already plans on returning in-state third-year sophomores Deon Stewart of Hardy Highland; La’Michael Pettway of Nashville; and redshirt freshman Jordan Jones of Smackover as his opening wideouts, depending on formation, with junior college transfers Jonathan Nance and possibly Brandon Martin.
Bielema cited freshman outside linebacker Hayden Henry of Pulaski Academy and cornerbacks Chevin Calloway of Dallas Bishop Dunne and Kamren Curl of Muskogee, Okla., as ready to play against Florida A&M.
Henry, the brother of former Mackey Award winning All-America tight end Hunter Henry, and son of former Razorbacks center Mark Henry, arrived as a blueshirt, a walk-on with cause to believe he eventually will be placed on scholarship.
Hayden Henry is considered second team at weakside inside to linebacker Grant Morgan, the redshirt freshman from Greenwood and brother of just graduated former Razorbacks receiver Drew Morgan.
“Grant inside is very slippery, very, very knowledgable,” Bielema said. “I know this. Once you tell Grant this is the way you want something done, that's the way he's going to do it every time. His football IQ is very high, and he's athletic. Hayden, as we've moved him more outside, plays better. He's got really football instincts. I think both of them will be very good special teams players as well.”
Third-year sophomore tight end Will Gragg of acclaimed high school fame at Dumas and Pine Bluff High, could make his mark on special teams while trying to fit into a deep tight ends rotation that starts with third-year sophomore letterman Austin Cantrell of Roland, Okla. and includes heralded junior college transfer Jeremy Patton; third-year sophomore letterman Cheyenne O’Grady of Fayetteville; junior two-year letterman Jack Kraus of Bentonville and sophomore letterman Grayson Gunter.
“Will Gragg … I’ve never seen run like he is now,” Cantrell said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a runner.”
Bielema volunteered favorably on Gragg’s progress last week.
“Will Gragg has had an awesome, awesome camp,” Bielema said. “Definitely shows that he belongs out there and has done some good things. That tight end corps is six deep, and they've all got a chance to play.”
Finally, a Razorbacks defensive player has received preseason recognition.
Junior cornerback Ryan Pulley of Fort Myers, Fla., last season’s Razorbacks leader in pass breakups with 13, was named third-team on the SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC teams.
Senior quarterback Austin Allen of Fayetteville and junior left offensive guard Hjalte Froholdt of Svendborg, Denmark, moved only two springs ago from the defensive line to the offense, were named third-team, while senior center Frank Ragnow continued racking up the preseason accolades as preseason All-SEC first-team by both the media and coaches.
The Razorbacks had a closed practice Thursday with closed practices set Friday and Saturday. They will work out Saturday after watching Florida A&M open its season at 11 a.m. (CDT) on ESPNU against visiting Texas Southern of the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference).