FAYETTEVILLE – Sandwiched between Thursday’s first preseason day in full pads and Saturday’s first of two Saturday preseason scrimmages, the Razorbacks refreshed with a light Friday practice.
Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman wants the Razorbacks feeling their game ready best going into the first practice apt to start changing the depth chart since practice began Aug. 6.
“Coach Pittman wants us to treat it just like a real Saturday game,” senior receiver and Helena native Tyson Morris said after Thursday’s practice. “And that’s our mindset going into it. Each rep we’re going to be getting after it, and keeping the pace uptempo. Keeping a high tempo. I feel like we’re going to be able to build off this scrimmage.”
Following Friday’s practice, Dowell Loggains, the new tight ends coach and former Razorbacks walk-on reserve quarterback and place-kicks holder become NFL offensive coordinator, and tight ends Blake Kern of Lamar and Hudson Henry of Little Rock and Pulaski Academy met with media.
Depth is so thin behind returnees Kern, a sixth-year senior granted a covid bonus year option as were all 2020 seniors, and third-year sophomore Henry that 6-1, 235 sophomore running back Dominique Johnson this week was moved to tight end.
“Dom is doing a good job getting caught up,” Loggains said. “The advantage he had is he’s been in the system. So, he understands signals and understands where the ball is supposed to go in the passing gamern and where he needs to be distribution wise. He’s done a nice job.”
Loggains was asked about relating to Kern, originally a walk-on earning a scholarship after two years apprenticing on the scout team.
“ I know how much it means to Blake Kern,” Loggains said. “What this school, this university, this football program means to him.”
Loggains cited some similarities with himself and Mark Henry, the father of Hudson Henry and Razorbacks senior linebacker Hayden Henry and a former Razorback center lettering for Ken Hatfield in 1988 and ’89 and Jack Crowe in 1990 and ’91.
“With Hud, you can talk about his dad played here, his mom was a cheerleader,” Loggains said. “I played here. My wife was a cheerleader. My brother in law played second base for the Hogs on the baseball team for three years. We all have that common passion for the Razorbacks and this state.”
Kern said Loggains’ Arkansas past as the lone UA alum on staff immediately ties him to Arkansas present.
“Me being from the state of Arkansas and him playing here,” Kern said, “that played a huge role in why he connects with our room, connects with this state and the team.”
Henry said Pittman uniquely introduced Loggains to the squad.
“We’re sitting in there, and he (Pittman) says, ‘I love bringing in alumni in here to talk to you guys,” Henry recalled. “He said, ‘I’m going to bring up Dowell Loggains. He’s been coaching in the NFL for a long time.”
Another alumni speech Henry thought.
“I’m just kind of sitting back in my chair going, This guy is pretty cool, I guess,” Henry said. “He played for the Hogs. He’s giving this big, ol’ speech, and Coach Pittman was like, ‘You guys just talked to your new tight ends coach.’ We were all like, ‘Oh my gosh!” He’s really tenured in the NFL and he has a lot of experience.”
Kern and Henry have “played a lot of football,” for the Hogs, Loggains said.
However tight end experience drops from them to third-year sophomore walk-on Nathan Bax lettering last year on special teams.
Like Kern before him, Bax strives to advance from pay your dues walk-on to major player.
“He’s got a very professional mindset about him,” Loggains said. “He knows what to do. You can count on him.”
At tight end knowing what to do means doing more than most.
“The tight ends are expected to run routes like receivers and supposed to pass protect like left tackles,” Loggains said. “There’s a lot that goes into that position, and if you don’t have consistency, it’s hard to hard to improve. I’d say he’s our most improved player in that (tight end) room.”