HOGS: staff will miss key seniors
FAYETTEVILLE - Five Razorbacks worked Tuesday in green non-contact jerseys as Arkansas preps for Saturday night’s SEC game against the LSU Tigers.
Arkansas (2-7, 0-5 in SEC) and ninth-ranked LSU (7-2, 4-2) play the season’s Fayetteville finale with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Senior starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw, starting senior nickel back Kevin Richardson, sophomore backup defensive tackle Briston Guidry, senior receiver Jared Cornelius and sophomore receiver/kick returner De’Vion Warren wore the green jerseys, though the Razorbacks don’t go full-contact on Tuesdays.
During last week’s bye week, the Razorbacks worked some first-team offense against first-team defense. They also scrimmaged the younger players and reserves to get a head start on spring practice since the 2-7 Hogs can’t qualify for a bowl with the ensuing December bowl practices.
Even on losing teams like these 2-7 Razorbacks, first-year coaches tend to have lasting bonds with some of their first senior class.
Certainly it seems Arkansas first-year coach Chad Morris and first-year Arkansas defensive and offensive coordinators John “Chief” Chavis and Joe Craddock will fondly remember senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw and senior offensive guard/center Hjalte Froholdt.
Greenlaw and Froholdt, team captains along with senior safety Santos Ramirez and junior linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris among the Razorbacks that Morris inherited from former coach Bret Bielema, play their Fayetteville finale on Saturday’s Senior Night.
After Senior Night, the Razorbacks finish on the SEC road Nov. 17 at Mississippi State and Nov. 23 at Missouri.
Morris and Craddock were asked about Froholdt, the four-year letterman with the fascinating background as the Denmark born become American football defensive lineman as a high school exchange student in Ohio. Froholdt blossomed into a national prospect at the IMG Academy in Florida and was considered a Bielema recruiting coup.
Froholdt has started at either guard slots, or early this year at center before moving back to guard, and is regarded the most NFL coveted among Arkansas’ seniors.
“He’s a tremendous leader for our football team,” Morris said. “He was voted a team captain by his peers, which is huge. That’s a big deal. So I think that says enough about what he means in our locker room.”
Morris said Froholdt plays with an offensive lineman’s ideal anonymity.
“On the field as an offensive lineman, if your name’s not being called, that’s a good thing,” Morris said, noting offensive linemen usually only get announced for penalties. “But he definitely has backed that up. Just his toughness, his leadership style, his ability to communicate and help those younger guys in the offensive line. And just what he demands in the meeting rooms, too. His work ethic, his demeanor, has not changed though the course of this season. He’s been very, very rock solid, and that’s why you’ve got respect for him.”
Craddock said he and offensive line coach Dustin Fry marvel at Froholdt’s tenacity.
“He’s a tough, tough, tough kid,” Craddock said. “There have been several times this year we were worried about him not being able to get up after getting rolled up on or whatever it may be. I remember several times sitting next to Coach Fry and him saying, ‘Get up, Hjalte. Get up.’ And he got up. So, he’s just tough. He’s banged up. He’s been bruised and all those things, and he’s really done a good job of just pushing through. So, he’s a tough guy. That’s the kind of mentality we want our whole team to gravitate toward.”
Froholdt keeps them laughing through the pain.
“He’s fun to hang out with, fun to be around,” Craddock said. "Go up to him at practice and talk to him. He has a sense of humor about him. He’s a guy other guys want to flock to. Whatever he chooses to do in life, he’s going to be successful.”
Morris has spoken often of Greenlaw, the Fayetteville High grad from the broken home adopted by Brian and Nanci Early, and his perseverance through injuries to be a defensive force and team leader.
Chavis, specifically the linebackers coach, knows Greenlaw as a linebacker’s linebacker and a captain.
“Obviously, you know the talent,” Chavis said. "That's easy for anybody to see. But he's also a leader for us and he's been a calming effect for us. As a young man, he's been fun to coach, no doubt about it.”
Greenlaw deserves finishing better than this 2-7 start, Chavis asserts.
“We want to make these last three weeks a lot more fun than it has been throughout the season,” Chavis said.
But he will remember Greenlaw fondly, regardless of the final record.
“We've had great, great times together,” Chavis said. “I hope I've helped him. I know he's certainly helped this football team, and he's an outstanding young man.”