FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas Razorbacks football coach Bret Bielema has not kicked sophomore punter Blake Johnson off the team — not yet, anyway. Bielema was even a little skittish about using the word “suspended.”
“I just told him I didn’t want to see him today,” Bielema said after his team scrimmaged Saturday. “You know how you have children, right. I don’t have children yet but I assume there’s some point when you just don’t want to see anybody. Just send them away. Send them in the other room.
“He’s in timeout. He’s in extreme timeout.”
Bielema sent Johnson home to California this weekend after Johnson — per Bielema’s description — “unfortunately rolled his ankle in some activities away from football that I’m not very happy about. So I removed him from the program for a little bit. Let him go home this weekend and celebrate Easter weekend by himself in his apartment. I’ll make a decision Monday if I let him back in.”
Johnson was one of the highest-ranked specialists nationally in the 2015 recruiting class and was expected to compete for the Razorbacks’ punting job as a true freshman. Instead, Arkansas went with former walk-on Toby Baker, who spent the last 2 seasons in the position and performed well.
Johnson was expected to take over for Baker, but his latest issue casts doubt over that.
At one point last season, Bielema moved starting quarterback Austin Allen into the No. 2 spot at punter on his depth chart, saying that Johnson was “inconsistent.”
“There was a day when we were practicing on our practice field and he punted it on Razorback Road,” Bielema said in November.
For reference, Razorback Road runs along the west side of the Arkansas practice field.
Speaking about Johnson’s current situation Saturday, Bielema said, “I don’t need everybody to stay in their house and watch movies every night, but I definitely don’t need him to have anything taken away from the game when he’s not here.”
During the scrimmage Saturday, sophomore Connor Limpert served as the team’s top punter.