HawgBeat - Razorbacks add OL Marcus Henderson to tight ends room
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Razorbacks add OL Marcus Henderson to tight ends room

True freshman offensive tackle Marcus Henderson.
True freshman offensive tackle Marcus Henderson. (Arkansas Athletics)

The local Razorback media got 15 minutes of viewing time for practice on Tuesday and while there aren't always major takeaways from watching a few drills, HawgBeat did spot an unfamiliar face in with the tight ends.

Sam Pittman, in his quest for more tight end depth, has tried freshman defensive end Blayne Toll at the position, as well as freshman linebacker Eric Thomas. Now, freshman offensive lineman Marcus Henderson is giving it a whirl.

While the rest of the offensive line gained an average of 14 pounds during the offseason, Henderson checked in at 284–16 pounds lighter than he was listed on signing day. He'd been in the conversation for some backup reps at left tackle but with his current size, and the Hogs' depth on the line, the coaches figured they'd get creative.

"I sat down with Coach (Jon) Cooper and Coach (Brad) Davis and said, ‘Hey look now, we have tackles, several, three to four tackles in there, let’s move him over to tight end and see if we can have a physical blocker in there, more physical blockers in there," Pittman said. "And he can catch the ball. He actually did that some in high school. So we moved him over there."

Henderson, a former 3-star and two-way player, did indeed play some tight end at Memphis University High. In fact, Ole Miss, the runner-up for Henderson's signature, told him they might use him as a flex tight end in his first year if he picked the Rebels. Now, he's getting a chance to do it on the Hill.

Pittman said Henderson caught a few balls in Thursday's late night practice and he's a powerful blocker–obviously–but he's still got some work to do before he sees the field.

"We have to get him ready," Pittman said. "He obviously knows the offense. Very, very easy transition for him as far as the blocking goes. Certainly the routes and things of that nature we’re going to have to do a full-fledged charge on getting him ready mentally on getting ready to run routes."

There's just two weeks before the home opener against Georgia but from Pittman's experience with his first round draft pick Andrew Thomas, a former Bulldog at left tackle, it's a transition Henderson can handle.

"I know we moved Andrew Thomas two weeks before the first game and he was a freshman, moved him from left to right and he started on the national runner-up team. So it can be done. We’re trying to accelerate him as fast as we possibly can."

Arkansas's tight end room now consists of Hudson Henry, Blake Kern, Collin Sutherland, Blayne Toll, Marcus Henderson and Nathan Bax.

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