Marquel Wade (1) was expected to be a threat as a receiver and return man in 2012.
“Apparently I was not clear the last time when I said read the press guide,” Smith said Thursday at his media golf outing at Paradise Valley Golf and Athletic Club. “If you see his name in the press guide, he would have a chance. If you don’t see it there, then … you won’t see him there.”
None of the aforementioned players, who each have legal issues relating to charges of theft and burglary, are in the UA media guide.
Smith didn’t rule out the players returning to the team at some point after the season, but it sounds unlikely.
“Not this season,” he said. “There’s always a possibility down the road depending on … but I would not expect any of those, like you said, any of those guys to be here.”
In all, six Razorbacks have been arrested since March. Five of the six – receivers Wade, Humphrey and Kane Whitehurst, tight end Peterson, and Gilbert, a linebacker – are no longer with the team. The sixth, offensive tackle Jason Peacock, remains on the squad and will enter fall camp trying to regain his starting position.
“Again, we come back to that you would like to give every kid an opportunity to make a correction, to correct the problem,” Smith said. “And he (Peacock) has done a tremendous job of correcting the problem. The ball was in his court, so he had to go get things done. At this point, he has solved everything that he can. So he’s put himself in as good a stead with us as he can. He’ll just have to continue on.”
Wade was expected to be a serious threat in the return game and was also Arkansas’ leading receiver in the spring.
Smith repeated Thursday that true freshman Nathan Holmes, junior college transfer Demetrius Wilson and veteran running back Dennis Johnson would be looked at in punt return. Sophomore Keante Minor might also get a look there.
Coach John L. Smith is opening practice to the public from Aug. 2-Aug. 18.
Arkansas begins fall camp Aug. 2 at the school’s intramural fields located less than a mile from Razorback Stadium, and practices will be open to the public through Aug. 18.
Smith said the Razorbacks, who report Wednesday, will practice almost exclusively at the intramural fields until school begins. The first day off fall classes is Aug. 20.
The Razorbacks moved to the intramural fields last season and found the wide-open setup to their liking.
The fall camp schedule is subject to change, but scrimmages are set for Aug. 11 and Aug. 18.
In the case of inclement weather, practices held inside Walker Pavilion will be closed to the public because of space constraints.
The Razorbacks are scheduled for two practices per day Aug. 2-Aug 5. The first two days, the newcomers will work first and the veterans will follow. The newcomers and veterans will flip-flop that the other two days.
The newcomers and veterans will go through two-a-day practices together Aug. 13, and Aug. 15. There will also be a practice the morning of Aug. 11 before the scrimmage that afternoon.
Knile Davis' contact is expected to be limited in fall camp.
The plan for Knile
Don’t look for preseason first-team All-SEC pick Knile Davis to get as much contact as the other running backs during practices leading up to the season opener.
But do expect Davis, who missed last season because of a broken ankle, to take “a shot or two.”
Smith said he and the other coaches still have to sit down and “decide when we have the scrimmage days and how much contact that he is going to get and how many reps he is going to get.”
“You want him coming into that first game confident,” Smith said. “ ‘Hey, I know I’ve been hit on it. I’m fine. I’m ready to go.’”
And the plan for Brandon
Smith recently confirmed that junior quarterback Brandon Mitchell would see some action at wide receiver this season, and from the sound of things, he could get quite a bit of work there.
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said Mitchell will continue to meet with the quarterbacks, but that he’ll split time between QB and receiver during practices.
Brandon Mitchell is expected to split time between quarterback and receiver this fall.
“He’s going to meet in the quarterback room all the time in meetings because we always go over everything anyway,” Petrino said. “He’s smart enough that he’ll understand the plays. Techniquewise, there will be times in practice when he goes with Coach Cink (receivers coach Kris Cinkovich), and there will be times in practice where he’ll be with the quarterbacks.
“But meetingwise, he can be in our meeting. I coached receivers for quite a while, so in the meetings we can make sure that he gets both of what he needs to know at quarterback and what he needs to know at receiver covered.”
The idea to give Mitchell some work at receiver originated with Mitchell and quarterback Tyler Wilson, Petrino said. Wilson is the one who first approached Petrino about it.
“They kind of got together with each other and felt like Brandon’s a great athlete and he’s a leader, and it’s going to help us get another leader on the field,” Petrino said.
“And they’ve worked hard together all summer on their own. And I’m excited.”
No pursuit of Penn State players
Arkansas has not pursued any Penn State players in the wake of the sanctions levied against the program by the NCAA, but if some of the current Nittany Lions approached the Razorbacks, Smith said they would listen.
“Yes, if some of those guys … they have to find the place that’s right for them,” he said. “If some of those guys were to inquire and we’re a good fit for them, then we’d definitely take a look at them.”
Smith said the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State was “a sad situation, as we all know.”
“Not only the victims but now it almost is like the victims are the players that are there, they’re being penalized,” Smith said. “Giving them the opportunity to move, to go play elsewhere is probably the right decision."
More on the wide receivers
Just how talented is the incoming class of wide receivers?
“One thing that’s exciting is I think this class that’s coming in right here, that’s been here all summer and working on their own, has a chance to be like the class that just left,” Petrino said. “When Jarius and Joe and Chris Gragg and Greg Childs all came in here, they all played as true freshmen.
“So Demetrius Wilson, no question being a junior college guy, when you recruit someone like that, you expect them to play right away. Between (Keon) Hatcher and (D’Arthur) Cowan and Mekale McKay, that’s a really good freshman crew. So their learning curve will be pushed up fast.”
Petrino was asked if Wilson would be used much in the way Adams was used.
“That’s something that we’ve got to get out on the field and have live tackling and see,” he said. “But what he has is great speed. He has all-out great speed. You’re hoping that he can make a guy miss and then take it the distance because he does have that home run speed. So yeah, we’re hoping that he will.
“Off his junior college tape and just off his track times, you know that he has the speed to do it.”
Arkansas knows it is thin at linebacker, and the Razorbacks could be turning to their senior fullback and a true freshman to help shore things up.
Defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said Thursday that fullback Kiero Small would get as many repetitions as possible at linebacker in practice, and he also said he’s excited about the physical ability of true freshman linebacker Otha Peters.
Small played linebacker as well as fullback at Hartnell (Calif.) Community College.
“We’ll kind of work out that and talk about that,” Haynes said of the linebacker reps for Small, the starting fullback last season.
“As Coach Smith has said, he’s too good a football player to have on the sideline. When (offensive coordinator Paul Petrino) and those guys are not using him, he’ll be over there with us. We’ve just got to figure out what’s the best way to put him in there, the smartest way to put him in there, and get him in there and do it. But he’s excited about doing it. He’s a leader on this football team, and that’s the great thing about him.”
The feedback on Peters’ work this summer has been positive, Haynes said, but he said it’s hard to tell if he’ll be able to make a significant contribution this season until he gets out there and is “thrown into the fire.” Peters will work at either the weakside or middle linebacker spots.
“He has all the tools. He has what you want,” Haynes said. “Now let’s see him get out there and do it, and time will tell. Time will tell on that. You’re excited about it. He’s always trying to come in and watch film and do those types of things, and that’s what you want out of those guys. You’ve still got to see once you throw him into the fire, does he pick up on it? Can he think on the run and do those things.”
Talking about the Car Wash
Smith, Davis and Tyler Wilson went through ESPN’s Car Wash – a series of interviews with various ESPN outlets – this week, and the Hogs’ head coach said it was a positive experience.
“It was a good outing. It really was,” he said. “That ESPN facility there (in Bristol, Conn.), their campus is an amazing facility. And their building, they’re putting in like five new studios. It’s kind of eye-opening, let’s say, as to how big ESPN has gotten in a short period of time and how they’re continuing to grow – the magnitude, the focus on sports.
Smith said the more exposure Arkansas can get, the better it is for the program.
“I think it’s always better for the university any time that those kids out there in the country are seeing us and seeing us on TV,” he said. “It’s definitely a help. So they’re going to take a look at Arkansas. We want that logo out as much as we can get it out to gain exposure. It helps us recruiting.”
Still waiting on Ascolese
Linebacker Vin Ascolese is the lone 2012 signee yet to report, and Smith elaborated on his status Thursday. He said Ascolese is working with the NCAA Clearinghouse in an attempt to become eligible.
“He’s in an appeal process,” Smith said.