FAYETTEVILLE – Friday’s practice, their first in shoulder pads, completes the Arkansas Razorbacks’ first week using three of its allotted 25 practices before their Sept. 26 season-opener against the Georgia Bulldogs at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
New Coach Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks, with no practices this Saturday and Sunday, after a first week working Monday, Wednesday and Friday, are SEC and NCAA mandated for one more just shoulder pads practice they’ll use Monday before going full pads Tuesday for the first time.
Friday’s completely closed to media practice followed a Wednesday practice in shoulder pads and shorts that junior cornerback Montaric Brown said included a couple of interceptions by himself and sophomore nickel back Greg Brooks.
Junior receiver Mike Woods said he and fellow receivers Treylon Burks, T.J. Hammonds and Peyton Ausley caught touchdowns.
This time last year junior Montaric Brown of Ashdown was converting from safety to corner. Even with no spring ball to work under new defensive coordinator Barry Odom and new cornerbacks coach Sam Carter, a full 2019 season at corner makes Brown feel he’s cornered the market.
“I feel comfortable,” Brown said. “Getting adjusted to corner I’m way comfortable learning the concept of receivers and technique just practicing my technique every day. Coach gets on us every day about technique. I just practice it every day and after practice watch film.”
Khari Johnson, the freshman surprise given Pittman’s staff ventured way out of customary territory to recruit him from Boston, apparently was worth the New England trip by Brown’ assessment of his work at nickel behind Brooks. Brown also cited freshman safety Myles Slusher, a much closer to Arkansas recruit from Broken Arrow, Okla.
“Really fluid in the hips,” Brown said of both.
Although the Monday and Wednesday practices were padless, noncontact that doesn’t mean they were easy.
“We’re trying to be a tough football team, so we have to put them in tough situations,” Pittman said after Monday’s practice. “We did today and they did a really good job.”
Pittman said the Hogs Monday handled the heat. But he harbors no delusions that a padless practice equals when the pads are donned and the hitting starts.
“I mean, we didn’t have any pads on,” Pittman said. “They were going full speed as far as they could.”
That speed without pad means pulling back from needlessly injury risking contact.
“They were taking care of each other,” Pittman said.
Hudson Henry of Little Rock and Pulaski Academy and bearing the Razorbacks pedigree from his father, Ken Hatfield and Jack Crowe era center Mark Henry, oldest brother and Bret Bielema Razorbacks era Mackey Award winner and current Los Angeles Chargers NFL star Hunter Henry, and older brother and current senior Razorbacks linebacker Hayden Henry, was among Arkansas’ most touted 2019 freshmen. But he fell behind with preseason injuries last August and ended up redshirting.
The Hogs need him healthy in 2020 as their most talented tight end.
“I really like him,” Pittman said. “He’s big (6-5, 249) athletic. He’s such a wonderful person and he’s worked awfully hard. We’re expecting him to have a good year.”
Because of last year’s new expanded redshirt rule, Hudson late season played three of the maximum four games still allowed to redshirt. He caught 2 passes for 17 yards against LSU, his third game. Henry missed the season finale against Missouri among a rash of Razorbacks stricken by mumps.