Arkansas coach Bret Bielema confirmed Thursday that sophomore running back Devwah Whaley will be available when the Razorbacks face Texas A&M on Saturday, ending 24 hours of speculation to the contrary.
Sources told SEC Country that Whaley, a key cog in the Razorbacks ground game, was involved in a fight with a teammate after practice Wednesday. Bielema confirmed that account during his weekly radio show Thursday night.
Rumors and speculation swirled online Thursday that the 5-foot-11, 216-pound Whaley had suffered a broken jaw in a scuffle with teammate Brandon Martin. However, Bielema said Whaley, from Beaumont, Texas, suffered only a minor injury and could play against the Aggies at the Southwest Classic in Arlington, Texas.
“Unfortunately, I did have two guys get into a little disagreement in the locker room amongst themselves for a very brief moment,” Bielema said. “The result of that is that Devwah did sustain a minor injury, but he’s cleared to play, ready to play on Saturday — not an issue.”
Bielema didn’t offer specifics about Whaley’s injury, but sources told SEC Country that reports of a broken jaw were false. It remains unclear whether Martin was indeed the other player involved. After discussing Whaley, Bielema immediately addressed the fact that Martin won’t be making the trip to Arlington, due to injury, but the coach didn’t explicitly connect the two players.
“Brandon Martin, unfortunately, tweaked his hamstring two weeks ago,” Bielema said. “He’s not going to be traveling with us, but it’s nothing to do with that whole situation.”
Martin, a 6-4, 219-pound sophomore, is a highly regarded wide receiver from the junior college ranks. He doesn’t yet have a reception with the Razorbacks, but he did see action in the team’s season opener against Florida A&M in Little Rock.
Whaley, who has run for 92 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries so far this season, posted a comment to Twitter on Thursday afternoon vaguely referencing the situation.
I appreciate everyone's concerns. I'm set to travel with my teammates and take on Texas A&M in my home state.
— Devwah Whaley (@devwah_whaley) September 21, 2017
Bielema played down the significance of the fisticuffs and said such conflicts aren’t unusual in college football. He expressed surprise at the amount of attention the story was getting, comparing it to when the story of 17 Razorbacks players getting stuck in an elevator went national during preseason camp.
Arkansas plays Texas A&M at noon ET (11 a.m. CT) on Saturday at AT&T Stadium. Arkansas is 1-1 this season and a 2 1/2-point underdog against the Aggies, according to VegasInsider.com.
SEC Country’s Trent Shadid, Eric Bolin and John Nabors contributed to this report.