Hogs: Saturday scrimmage critical for O line, backup QBs; more notes

Hogs: Saturday scrimmage critical for O line, backup QBs; more notes

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FAYETTEVILLE - Other than freshman defensive end McTelvin “Sosa” Agim who went through spring practices, fullback Hayden Johnson has netted the most team-wide respect of all the Razorbacks’ true freshmen.

Upperclassmen like junior starting quarterback Austin Allen marveled during the August heat of preseason drills as Johnson would “run drills until he passed out” when he was the only fullback taking all the first- and second-team reps.

Senior four-year starting offensive tackle Dan Skipper also is impressed.

“Hayden has shocked everyone,” Skipper said. “The only true fullback in camp, and he's taking that and run with it.”

Johnson’s freshman peers respect the fullback straight out of Rockbridge High in Columbia, Mo.

“Man, that guy is unbelievable,” true freshman running back T.J. Hammonds of Little Rock’s Joe T. Robinson said. “He is a physical guy. He’s got red marks on his neck and I go, ‘Hey, does that bother you?’ And he goes, ‘No, man. I’m just doing what I have to do.’ Some people go around thinking it’s hickeys or something like that. He is a good guy. I like him.”

Johnson, media available with several freshmen after Friday’s practice as the Razorbacks senior participated in a scheduled function on campus, was asked about his Rockbridge resume.

“Defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end, Wildcat quarterback, just about everything,” Johnson said.

Just about everything but fullback?

“Exactly,” Johnson said.  “About everything but fullback. But it’s a lot of experience that fits well into this position. Everything from my past has really led up to me being prepared for this position. They are giving me opportunities and I think I am making an exclamation on it.”

Of course, he’s had no opportunity like Saturday’s first tackle-to-the-ground scrimmage.

“It’s going to be huge for us,” Johnson said. “We have been piecing together in team a little bit of practice. But getting out there with referees and full contact it’s going to be a whole other atmosphere. I can’t wait for it.”

Johnson and Hammonds say they have two coaches: Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell and sixth-year senior Kody Walker (in photo), who has lettered at running back and fullback.

“I call him Paw-Paw,” Hammonds said. “Paw-Paw has taught me a lot, teaching me the plays and little details about the plays.”

With incumbent starting defensive end Tevin Beanum excused until the Aug. 22 start of classes to resolve undisclosed issues, rookie Agim of Hope has battled junior Karl Roesler for the first-team slot opposite All-America candidate Deatrich Wise at rush end.

The defensive tackles, Jeremiah Ledbetter and Taiwan Johnson, are seniors. What it’s like, being the only rookie among veterans?

“They've taken me under their wing, so  I feel like I fit in good,” Agim said Friday. “They can tell I want to play and that I'm putting my all into it, so they respect that. It’s all love in the room.”

Those spring practices helped immensely, Agim said.

“It got me very far ahead of some of the freshmen,” Agim said.  “It got me very ahead of some of the freshmen across the country who are just coming in June and July … I've been here since December learning the plays, learning the techniques.”

Offensively, Saturday’s scrimmage looms large for battling backup quarterbacks, redshirt freshman Ty Storey and third-year sophomore Rafe Peavey. A constantly reshuffling offensive line “took a step back" Thursday, line coach Kurt Anderson said, after the defensive line dominated practice.

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