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New Razorback CBs coach Bowman happy to be working for lifelong favorite team

Razorback cornerbacks coach Dominique Bowman gives direction during a tackling drill at practice Monday afternoon in Fayetteville.

By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — The cornerbacks at Arkansas have a new coach for the first time since Sam Pittman arrived with Dominique Bowman replacing Sam Carter.

For Bowman it’s like he’s coming home. His parents, Dennis and Deshay, lived in Forrest City so Bowman grew up with the Razorbacks. His parents now live in Memphis.

“Absolutely. Razorbacks all day,” Bowman said. “I was telling, when I walked over, I grew up and I’m a basketball player at heart, so I grew up a Nolan Richardson fan, 40 Minutes of Hell, so Corey Beck, Scotty Thurman, all those guys, I (grew up) watching those guys play. Corey is from Memphis. I grew up watching those guys. So when I got the job, I had two million phone calls talking about tickets and all that and I”m like, ‘I haven’t even gotten there yet.’ But they’re proud about it.”

How has Fayetteville been?

“Yeah man, it’s been great,” Bowman said. “Excited to be here at Arkansas. It’s everything I thought it would be and more. Good players, good people, the town has been great. Me and my wife and family, we’ve been enjoying it, so everything I expected.”

Bowman has a mixture of young players and veterans at the cornerbacks and nickel positions.

“Some really good players,” Bowman said. “We’ve got a veteran group that’s played a bunch of ball. At the nickel spot, Slush (Myles Slusher) has played a bunch of ball. On the back end, we’ve got a bunch of guys. We moved Malik Chavis to corner, he’s been playing since the spring at corner. So, a veteran group. Hud (Hudson Clark) has been doing an outstanding, Day Day (LaDarrius Bishop) has been doing outstanding, Khari Johnson, Keuan Parker, all those guys have been playing great. So, we’ve got a veteran group. We do.”

Bowman talked about who is in the mix at the cornerback positions including a talented transfer from LSU.

“Right now, it’s DayDay, it’s Hud, it’s Malik, it’s Nudie (Dwight McGlothern),” Bowman said. “Four guys in the mix. Keuan, Khari, those guys have been competing, but the 1s and 2s right now have been those four guys. Talking about Hudson Clark, I mean, he’s a good player. He’s athletic, he’s long, he’s smart, cerebral. Hud and them have been doing a good job in camp.”

McGlothern played at LSU prior to transferring to Arkansas. McGlothern arrived at Arkansas at midterm.

“He brings, for one, that SEC experience,” Bowman said. “He started at LSU. He’s tough, he’s a competitor, he’s long, he’s smart. He’s played a bunch of ball, as well. He does bring that confidence in a room. When he walks in a room, he’s going to let you know he’s the best guy in that room. Nudie’s a good player, we’re glad he’s on our team. He competes his butt off. Nudie has been a huge asset to us.”

Bowman went into more detail about the younger cornerbacks who are also in line to get into action if needed.

“Keuan is tough, he’s having a great camp,” Bowman said. “He competes, he knows what to do. He’s tough, he’s cerebral. Khari Johnson has also been having a really good camp. He’s playing some nickel, he’s playing some corner, but when he’s out there he competes. More or less, it’s about getting it from the neck up. The athletic piece of it is good, but you have to be detailed in your technique. Honestly, it’s a demanding position with the progression, so the mental piece of it is the most important piece. Athletically, we’ve got the best guys in the country, I think. We have to lock in and make sure we’re doing our job every single play.”

Slusher was a four-star recruit out of Broken Arrow (Okla.) and appears set at the nickel position now. He may be the most versatile defensive back on the team.

“Yeah, Myles Slusher,” Bowman said. “That position in itself is one of the toughest positions in our scheme schematically. You’ve got to blitz, you’ve got to set the edge, you’ve got to play corner. So, it’s a linebacker, a corner and a safety all in one. So obviously, if it’s an odd space, you’ve got to set edges. If it’s four down, you’ve got to be the one to make a tackle. You’ve got to play some man-free coverages on it. You play pulls, you play apex, the whole nine. Myles Slusher is a smart player, so I feel like he is one of our best DB’s. He can play corner, he can play safety, he can play outside backer, which is the nickel spot. 

“Trent Gordon has been doing a really good job at that in the spring as well. And a young guy Jaylen Lewis, he’s physical, he’s smart. The spring for Jaylen, I think was going a little too fast for him. But once he could understand the scheme, now the game is starting to slow down for him. Now you see him make a bunch more plays. He’s setting edges, he’s already physical. He was going 1000 miles per hour in the wrong direction at first. But now the game is slowing down for him. Now it’s showing up on the film.”

The Razorbacks have practiced four times heading into Tuesday’s drill in the afternoon. Bowman talked about the defensive backs who have made big plays in the four practices thus far.

“From my group, Jalen Catalon obviously,” Bowman said. “I mean, he’s a safety, but I coach him. We’re all together. He’s made a ton of plays. Hudson’s made a ton of plays. Malik Chavis has made a bunch of plays. I can’t think of one single play like that one, the one-handed catch that Hud made to seal the two-minute drill. But off the top of my head, I can’t think of one play in particular.”

At Arkansas Bowman is sharing secondary duties with Barry Odom, defensive coordinator, who he knew from his days as a high school coach in Memphis.

“Barry Odom was the defensive coordinator in Memphis back when I was at Cordova High School,” Bowman said. “So obviously, I go up to the school and work camps, talk ball with those guys. So when the opportunity presented itself, I had a couple of things going on. But Barry Odom did reach out to me. Once I saw Barry Odom, he sent me a message to call him. I was at another spot interviewing. Like seven in the morning, I went in the bathoom and saw it. I was like, ‘I hope I don’t get this one. I want to be with Barry.’ So, he hit me up and said ‘what are you doing?’ I said I was at the airport. He was like ‘Alright, don’t take a job until you talk to me.’ So, it worked out, and I love Barry. He trusts me, and he believes in me. He gave me an opportunity to be in the SEC with him. So Barry is a huge part, as well as Coach Pittman. But Barry is the one that gave me the opportunity to come and work with him.”

Arkansas opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 3, when they play host to Cincinnati.

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