HOGS: QB Noland drills; LB Harris out
FAYETTEVILLE - Scoota Harris’ limited spring practices just became nonexistent.
Senior linebacker Harris, Arkansas’ best returning player as the leading 2018 regular-season tackler in the SEC, will miss the rest of the spring because of surgery Friday for a “slight fracture” in his foot, Arkansas coach Chad Morris said after Tuesday’s workout. “We expect him back some time in May.”
Morris and defensive coordinator John Chavis already had scheduled Harris for limited contact this spring to keep him healthy for the real season before deciding his foot requires surgery.
“I think it’s been something that’s been nagging,” Morris said. “It was during last season, and so we thought we kind of had it. We rehabbed it and thought we had it, and it just kept bothering him, so we just had it looked at. We don’t want this carrying on. He’s going to have a screw put in. Just a small screw. He’s got a real slight fracture in there. We know what he’s capable of doing, and he’s going to be just fine.”
Morris anticipates Harris serving as a player-coach the rest of the spring.
Beginning the spring already thin at linebacker with starter Dre Greenlaw graduated and returning linebackers Hayden Henry and Deon Edwards in green non-contact jerseys because of injuries, the Razorbacks held their third practice of spring drills and first in pads Tuesday with only sophomore Bumper Pool, junior Grant Morgan of Greenwood, junior Giovanni La France and redshirt freshman Andrew Parker practicing at the inside and weakside linebackers.
“Bumper’s getting a lot of reps,” Morris said. “Gio LaFrance is getting a lot of reps. Grant Morgan. We don’t have the depth we need right now at the linebacker position, but it allows some of the these other guys, young guys who are coming in, really putting a lot of reps on Gio and Bumper and Grant. It’s good to see, to force these guys to grow up pretty quick.”
As a quarterback pitching for the baseball Razorbacks, redshirt freshman Connor Noland has received a lot of media attention this spring with the baseball team.
Noland got attention Tuesday for getting his practices in with football, though it had to be in sweats. All players must have two non-contact practices, which the Hogs had Thursday and Saturday, before they can practice in pads.
“Glad to have Connor out there today,” Morris said. “We know he’s going to be sporadic through the course of spring. He got some reps in at the pace we are putting it and there really wasn’t a whole lot that he didn’t know. He hasn’t made a lot of meetings, but as he bounces back and forth it’s good to have him out there.”
QBs STARKEL AND HICKS
Nick Starkel, whose paperwork has been received as a graduate transfer from Texas A&M, will report this summer to the UA and work on his masters degree with two seasons remaining of football eligibility.
“We are always in the quarterback market,” Morris said. “It’s my job to make sure every room, not just the quarterback room, can continue to improve. And so that’s on me and to be able to make sure that we have competition in all areas. Rising tides lift all boats, and so I think you’ll see competition in all rooms, especially the quarterback room, adding Nick in there will be a huge addition as well.”
As the head coach at SMU, Morris had tried to recruit Starkel before Starkel signed with Texas A&M.
On Tuesday he called Starkel “a great competitor. With an extremely strong arm. That’s one of the things that really stands out. A good size, but he’s got a strong arm and obviously we know he’s played in this league. I think everybody who has been around him just talks about the quality of a person he is.”
Meanwhile, Ben Hicks, Morris’ starting SMU quarterback in 2016 and 2017 after Morris and Arkansas offensive coordinator/former SMU offensive coordinator Joe Craddock recruited Hicks and redshirted Hicks at SMU in 2015, practices with the Razorbacks as a graduate transfer.
“I’ve been pleased with Ben,” Morris said. “He’s brought great energy to that quarterback room as well as to our team. I think he’s done everything he’s supposed to do as a grad transfer coming in. You come in and you put your head down and you don’t say much and you earn the respect of your teammates by working. What I’ve seen more about Ben is not just how he relates and the players relating to him but the quarterbacks as well. He’s got a great rapport.”
KNOX, GREGORY CITED
Morris cited freshman receiver Trey Knox and freshman defensive back Eric Gregory, both December high school graduates January enrolled at the UA, for their first day in pads.
SCRIMMAGE SET SATURDAY
The Razorbacks did some hitting Tuesday and will do more Thursday before waging their first full-scale scrimmage Saturday.