By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Sunday’s third preseason practice was once again held in very hot weather.
Sam Pittman started Friday’s practice a little after 5 p.m., but then on both Saturday and Sunday it got going around 2:50 which is much closer to the season opener’s time of 2:30 against Cincinnati. Monday and Tuesday practices will also start around 2:50. Sunday’s probably was closer to 2:30 when it started.
Following Sunday’s practice Dowell Loggains along with Trey Knox, Hudson Henry and Nathan Bax met with the media. Loggains coaches the tight ends and talked about the offense and tempo of practice through three days.
“It’s been good from the tight end perspective,” Loggains said. “Guys are competing. You always have to get acclimated to the heat the first couple days, which our guys have done a nice job. It’s been battling through. Obviously, Trey has put on some weight and looks good. Came back in great shape. He’s just got to get used to the heat. Same with Hud and Bax and Tyrus (Washington) are all doing a really good job, and the young guys.”
Knox did put on weight as requested once his move to tight end was full-time and not transitioning between there and wide receiver. Loggains joked around when asked how Knox could put on 40 pounds in 18 months?
“Yeah, I do it the wrong way,” Loggains said. “So, I can only talk about the bad way I gain, but Trey has found a good way and looks good and moves well. It’s a tribute to the kid’s work ethic and our strength staff and Julie our nutritionist who has done a great job with him. It is a commitment. It’s not just ‘Hey, put on weight.’ You have to change your mindset. You go from playing wide receiver where you have to block, but you’re out there on the edge. You’re blocking people that are your size. Compared to now you have to block defensive ends. And now on the second level you’re blocking linebackers. It’s a mindset and that’s where the mental toughness comes in. It’s not for everybody. Not everybody can make this transition, but Trey is a mentally tough kid. He’s physically tough, and it’s allowed him to make the transition.”
Knox caught 20 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown last season. Loggains went into more detail on how Knox has handled the additional weight.
“When you see him, you can tell,” Loggains said. “When he walks through the door, he looks like what a tight end is supposed to look like. You have to give a lot of credit to Jamil Walker and his staff. He’s as good as any strength coach in America. When you come from pro football to college football, you always hear the stories about how important the strength coach is. You don’t know it until you get here and see how much time they spend with those guys. The strength staff deserves a ton of credit. It’s a huge reason why we win, and those guys have done a great job. And Trey making the right decisions and doing the right stuff.”
Knox talked about how he has put on so much weight which was needed for the tight end spot.
“Just eating,” Knox said. “Stuffing my face. Eating any and everything. I’ve said it before, literally I was just eating everything. Drinking chocolate milk before bed. Protein shakes. PB and Js. A lot of chicken and steak and potatoes. I love steak and potatoes. But just eating. And also working out, too, and I transformed my body, too. It’s not all bad weight. Like, it’s not bad weight at all. I feel good.”
Hudson Henry is a redshirt junior who has battled injuries much of the time at Arkansas. Henry is intent on staying healthy and helping the Razorbacks this fall.
“I think Hudson is the ultimate teammate, and his concern is doing what’s right by the team,” Loggains said. “Obviously, he wants to play like everybody else, but his focus right now is on improving himself. I’ve told him multiple times, you can only control what you can control and everything is going to be earned in our room. If you want more playing time, you have to earn it. We’ve got a good group in there that are all competing. Hudson is doing a nice job. He has the advantage of being intelligent. He comes from a great lineage and DNA in his family of good football players. Now he has to come do it on his own and make it, which he’s doing a good job.”
Henry talked about how the tight end room has evolved with seemingly much more depth than in recent seasons.
“In all honesty, I think we have the most talented tight end room that we’ve had in a very long time ,” Henry said. “I mean you’ve got us three and you also have Tyrus Washington. We have a lot of other guys in our tight end room who factor in and do well. I mean we have a good group of core guys who we can get in there and run a lot of different personnel out of. So I’d say we have probably the most talented tight end room we’ve had in a very long time.”
Bax is a former walk-on transfer from Illinois State. Bax earned a scholarship at Arkansas last year and now is likely to see a lot of action this fall.
“Coming in I knew it was going to be a challenge, as any walk-on has a mindset of,” Bax said. “You know you’re going to have to come in and put in extra work. Day in and day out you’ve got to do your job, but you’ve also got to do extra. And you’ve got to be consistent as well. It wasn’t just what I did, it was the resources around me. My teammates, the tight end room, Coach Loggains too. He really guided me to take that next step and do things from a different point of view. Do the detail things. … There’s a support group around me that helped me out a lot. That’s what really lifted me up to take that next step.”
Knox spent time at both wide receiver and tight end last season. That is something he won’t have to worry about this year since he is a tight end only.
“Last year was definitely hard,” Knox said. “Not being able to learn the little nuances of playing the position, of course, because you don’t have enough time to sit and really be coached on details when you’re getting ready for an opponent.
“But going through the spring and the summer, just really learning how to block D-ends, the footwork that you have to do, the hand placement, the striking. Just all the little details that make you so much better than just being raw strength and playing off of athleticism.”
Washington is a true freshman from Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County. The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Washington enrolled at midterm. On Friday he made a one-handed catch that still ranks among the best plays this fall. Knox loves what Washington brings to the program particularly in the future.
“That boy is going to be a problem,” Knox said. “I’ve tried to just take him under my wing. He’s actually staying at my house right now just because we’re in camp and I want to talk to him and really just try to help him through this whole thing. Camp is not easy. It’s not for the weak minded. It’s a grind and he’s going to hit a wall eventually. I just want to be there to help him get through it and teach him more about ball, the signals, with plays and just try to make him the best he can, because he can definitely help this team.”
Arkansas will practice Monday and Tuesday before taking a day away from practice on Wednesday. They will don pads on Thursday and then will hold the first scrimmage on Saturday.