FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema addressed the media Saturday following the Razorbacks’ first week of spring practice.
Here’s the rundown of what Bielema had to say:
- Saturday was Arkansas’ first practice in full pads. Bielema says the team was excited about that, and looked good overall. He adds the wide receivers were a “little sluggish” and need to step up. He’s looking for Jared Cornelius to lead the way.
- Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is the only player sidelines with a significant injury. He had a second foot surgery in the winter. Greenlaw will not be back for any of spring practice, but should be back in action in the fall. Bielema says he’s working as sort of an “internship assistant” right now.
- The Razorbacks hosted several recruits in the 2018 and 2019 class. Bielema calls it a “great day” from a recruiting standpoint.
- Bielema says outside linebacker Randy Ramsey “really came alive” today. He likes what he’s seeing from the outside linebackers in the new 3-4 scheme so far.
- Bielema was impressed with the first-team offensive line. That unit is Colton Jackson, Hjalte Froholdt, Frank Ragnow, Jake Raulerson (splitting time) and Brian Wallace. Bielema says returning starter Johnny Gibson will not work with the starters this spring. He is currently “working through some issues,” according to Bielema, but is practicing. Bielema adds he “has a chance to improve himself and he is doing a good job.” He calls it a “trust issue” between them.
- Bielema says new wide receivers Brandon Martin and Jonathan Nance are “probably two of the better route runners” on the team. Both arrived in January from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
- Sophomore Hayden Johnson is working at fullback, where he played last season, as well as H-back and tight end.
- The first week overall went well in Bielema’s estimation, considering the health and everything they’ve been able to go over in three practices.
- Defensive back Kevin Richardson is working primarily at cornerback while also capable of playing safety. Bielema says he will ideally play nickelback in the fall. “What I want to do is give him a chance to be a starter.”
- Bielema on quarterback Austin Allen: “I’m excited. He’s the leading returning efficiency guy in the SEC. I couldn’t be happier where he’s at.”
- Bielema says freshman running back Maleek Williams, who enrolled early in January, has looked “really, really good” and mentions him as potentially the third-team running back behind Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley. Williams has had only one “mental mistake” since he’s arrived, which is impressive to Bielema.
- Whaley has “trimmed down” since last season. Bielema says he continues to improve on his protections and understanding of the offense.
- Bielema and new defensive line coach John Scott Jr. will serve as the primary coaches working with special teams for the 2017 season. Scott Jr. has experience working with special teams in the past.
- Bielema says he “just kind of sat back and waited” on the situation with the gun bill allowing concealed firearms into games. The Arkansas House and Senate have both voted to pass an exemption for athletic venues. “One of the greatest things I’ve ever learned in life is don’t worry about what you can’t control. Obviously they weren’t calling me and asking for my opinion or my vote, so I just sat back and watched how things unfolded and reacted as it came undone.” He says he thought “cooler heads would prevail” and ultimately feels it put a lot of people at ease.