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August 25, 2014

Notebook: 7 takeaways from Week 1 depth chart

A lot of questions were answered when Arkansas released its depth chart on Monday. Here are seven key takeaways from the Hogs' first 2-deep heading into their season opener at Auburn:

1. Newcomers add immediate depth on OL

All four of Arkansas' 2014 offensive line additions are listed as backups on the first depth chart of the season, and at least a couple of them still have a good chance of earning starting spots this season.

Luke Charpentier and Mitch Smothers are still holding on as starters at left guard and center, respectively, but guard Sebastian Tretola and true freshman center Frank Ragnow are making strong pushes. Cameron Jefferson, who was penciled in as a new starter at left guard when he transferred in from UNLV this summer, is now listed as Dan Skipper's backup at left tackle. Head coach Bret Bielema mentioned Jefferson as a guy they've looked at as a tight end in special situations.

Highly-touted true freshman Brian Wallace also cracks the chart as Brey Cook's backup at right tackle.

Another notable along the offensive line is that Austin Beck has moved from No. 2 left tackle to No. 2 right guard behind Denver Kirkland.

2. No fullbacks listed

Instead of listing the depth at fullback, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema went with a 2-tight end set that features Hunter Henry and A.J. Derby as the starters. Junior Alex Voelzke is listed as Henry's backup while Jeremy Sprinkle holds the No. 2 spot behind Derby.

The fullback position is one that Bielema's been critical of since the spring, but it appears the picture is a little clearer at this stage. Kody Walker and Patrick Arinze are the go-to guys at fullback while freshmen Tyler Colquitt and Chris Jones have battled injuries throughout fall camp.

"Kody Walker will be our fullback in traditional 21 and 22 formations, as well as Patrick Arinze," Bielema said. "Both of those guys will get reps in there at fullback. We tried Tyler Colquitt, who unfortunately was concussed for about a week and-a-half, ten days. In addition to that, Chris Jones had popped in there a little bit, but he unfortunately had a meniscal tear in his knee.

"We're excited about Kody, he was doing really, really well. Then he strained his hammy about the same time as (Jonathan Williams), so he missed a week to 10 days in there, but he's been back full-go since last Wednesday."

3. Receivers group is much deeper this year

Arkansas lists Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan as co-starters at one receiver position, with true freshman Jared Cornelius etched in as a third option behind them.

Some may see that as Cornelius getting limited reps, but it's a good bet that won't be the case this season. Cornelius will see the field early and often as he's the (unlisted) starter at the flanker position.

At the other spot, fifth-year senior Demetrius Wilson holds the starting job with first-year Razorback Cody Hollister as his backup.

Additionally, just because true freshmen JoJo Robinson and Kendrick Edwards aren't listed on the depth chart does not mean they are redshirting. Bielema said he expects both to see the field this season. Damon Mitchell and Eric Hawkins are still in the mix and will add extra depth.

Receivers coach Michael Smith mentioned Mitchell as one of the top 5-6 guys in the group a couple of weeks ago, so it's not unrealistic to consider this a group of eight. That's a far cry from last year when only three of the Hogs' top eight leading receivers were actually wide receivers.

4. Henson over Hedlund

Cole Hedlund was penciled in as former Hog kicker Zach Hocker's replacement from the moment he signed his National Letter of Intent in February, but it appears he may have to wait a year before landing the gig.

That's because former walk-on and fifth-year senior John Henson has emerged out of nowhere and is now listed as Arkansas' starting kicker for Week 1. Henson was placed on scholarship earlier this month and, to hear the coaches tell it, has been one of the most consistent performers on the team thus far.

There's no denying Hedlund's future as Arkansas' kicker, but Henson, who sat behind Hocker for his first four years at Arkansas, has far more experience than the true freshman. It looks as though Hedlund may be in for a redshirt year unless Henson kicks himself out of a job.

Also, it's notable that punter Sam Irwin-Hill has won the kickoff duties. Still no word on whether or not he can kick off a tee with both legs, though.

5. Winston makes the most of more reps

Redshirt-freshmen defensive ends Deatrich Wise and Brandon Lewis have dealt with their share of injuries throughout fall camp, and their classmate JaMichael Winston has made the most of his extra work.

"(Winston) has had a really, really, really good camp," Bielema said on Monday.

Winston and Wise are listed as 'OR' starters at the defensive end position opposite of Trey Flowers. Bielema did mention on Monday that Wise appeared to be back to full health at Sunday's practice, which is pretty sizable news for the Hogs considering Wise was very questionable last week, so it'll be interesting to see who gets the nod on Saturday.

If it's Winston, three of the Razorbacks four starting defensive linemen will be from the state of Alabama.

Another notable is redshirt-freshman Tevin Beanum, the No. 2 end behind Flowers. Beanum, who's added 40 pounds since arriving as a true freshman, has drawn praise from the staff throughout fall camp.

6. Immediate help at linebacker, too

This is another position group where Arkansas will play four first-year Razorbacks.

JUCO transfer Josh Williams is listed at No. 2 at MIKE, true freshman Dwayne Eugene claimed the backup spot at WILL, and while freshmen Randy Ramsey (SAM) and Khalia Hackett (MIKE) aren't on the 2-deep, Bielema said he expects both of them to contribute this fall, as well.

Braylon Mitchell, Brooks Ellis and Martrell Spaight hold down the starting jobs at SAM, MIKE and WILL, respectively. Senior Tiquention Coleman will also be used at WILL in passing situations.

Last year this group was arguably the worst Arkansas had fielded in decades. It's hard to predict how much they've improved, but with more bodies and a year with Randy Shannon under their belts, it should be a better group top to bottom.

7. Bielema to play more youth than ever

Of the 24 first-year additions Arkansas has on campus right now, Bielema thinks 19 of them have a good chance of playing this season.

Let that marinate for a second.

Now, that does include Cole Hedlund and some guys that Bielema has called "strong possibilities" or guys who have been described as having a "good chance to play" by the head coach, so it may turn out that not all 19 of them are counted on this year.

Still, that's a very, very high number. Here are the new guys Bielema listed on Monday as strong possibilities to either play a position or on special teams in 2014:

WR: Cody Hollister, Jared Cornelius, JoJo Robinson, Kendrick Edwards
OL: Sebastian Tretola, Brian Wallace, Frank Ragnow, Cameron Jefferson
DL: Bijhon Jackson, Anthony Brown
LB: Khalia Hackett, Josh Williams, Randy Ramsey, Dwayne Eugene
CB: Santos Ramirez, Cornelius Floyd, Henre' Toliver
S: Joshua Liddell
K: Cole Hedlund (see: Henson over Hedlund)

That leaves quarterback Rafe Peavey, running back Juan Day, fullback Tyler Colquitt, tight end Jack Kraus, and defensive linemen Jake Hall and Armon Watts as the scholarship freshmen who are headed for redshirts.

Arkansas NEWS


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