FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Arkansas Razorbacks completed their first week of 2017 spring practices on Saturday and begin Week 2 on Tuesday afternoon.
The Razorbacks’ annual Red-White Spring Game is set for Saturday, April 29 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Here is a quick look at some of the players who stood out during the first week of spring.
Junior FB Kendrick Jackson
Jackson has bounced back and forth between fullback and linebacker since arriving in Fayetteville a couple years ago, but now seems settled in at fullback. The Haynesville, La., native appeared in all 13 games last year with two starts.
“Kendrick’s changed his body, has leaned it up,” coach Bret Bielema said after Saturday’s practice.
“Today he took out two guys in one play … he just kinda put his shoulder down and knew he could be physical and make a play. I think the running backs see that and they like playing behind that.”
Freshman RB Maleek Williams
Williams had to work pretty strenuously to enroll early at Arkansas and so far, his decision to come to Fayetteville a semester early is paying off.
With T.J. Hammonds trying his hand at wide receiver, Williams has been working as Arkansas’ No. 3 running back behind Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley.
“Maleek Williams is very impressive through three practices,” Bielema said Saturday. “He’s got good size. He’s down to 219 (pounds). He came in I believe at 236. Through two practices as a true freshman who came in January, one mental bust through two college practices is pretty impressive.”
Freshman OL Shane Clenin
Of the three freshmen offensive linemen who enrolled early, Clenin has clearly had the most early success. The Festus, Mo., native is already working as the Hogs’ second-team left tackle and, according to offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, is there to push current first-teamer Colton Jackson for that spot.
Bielema hasn’t been afraid to start true freshmen O-linemen in the past, and if one of this bunch is going to get in that mix in 2017, it looks like it will be Clenin.
Junior LB Michael Taylor
Taylor was a late addition to Arkansas’ 2016 signing class and because of some academic issues, was unable to play last season. Still, he clearly did a nice job on the scout team and is now in a position to start.
A skilled pass rusher, Taylor is working as a first-team outside linebacker in Arkansas’ new 3-4 system. This could be a perfect system for Taylor.
Sophomore WR La’Michael Pettway
Pettway — a Nashville, Ark., native — signed with the Razorbacks in their 2015 recruiting class over offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ohio State, among others. But so far, his only career catch came last season against FCS foe Alcorn State.
That might be changing. Pettway clearly possesses lots of natural talent, and Arkansas is in need of wide receivers to replace the bevy of pass catchers it is losing.
“We want that wide receiver group to step up and bring some energy,” Bielema said. “La’Michael, obviously, has always had physical tools. It’s just the mental side of it. I think he had to get some stuff right off the field and hopefully he’s done that.
“He’s a guy that I think through practice 3 would be one as coaches we would take a look at and say, this guy is ahead of where we thought he might be on Saturday in the first week.”