LITTLE ROCK — Promoting a theme of team, simple worked with the Arkansas football media guide.
Espoused by John L. Smith when he was hired, “One Program, One Goal,” is on both front and back cover of the 208-page publication. A red helmet, white pig on the side, dominates the front; one-third of the back is consumed by the 2012 schedule.
Nary an individual picture is available until the guide is open. A year ago, seven players were pictured on the cover of the media guide and seven more were on the back.
A collaborative effort between Smith and the UA athletic department administration, the design might have been risky if quarterback Tyler Wilson or running back Knile Davis was self-centered. Both are candidates for big-time postseason awards, but the folks in charge knew Wilson and Davis would be fine with subjugating personal promotion in favor of the team.
Interestingly, Davis is among the 24 players whose pictures appear on the inside cover under the label, “Senior Class of 2012.” A junior in eligibility, Davis considered entering the NFL draft this year and is a lock to leave after 2012.
During SEC Media Days, beat writer Robbie Neiswanger blogged about nuggets he unearthed in the media guide, including:
—Other than the records section, there is no mention of former coach Bobby Petrino.
—A couple of players, including No. 2 quarterback Brandon Allen, have changed numbers.
—Four players arrested in the offseason are not in the guide.
Back to Davis and Wilson and expectations based on stats in their profiles.
At first blush, it is a stretch to believe Davis will match the 1,322 yards produced on 204 carries in 2010. On closer inspection, maybe not. The game by game adds up to 20 carries for 121 yards for September. Do the math and Davis compiled some terrific numbers in October, November and the Sugar Bowl.
In front of Davis was a good offensive line and a quarterback in Ryan Mallett who demanded that the opposition play pass defense. The jury will be out on Davis’ blockers until the Alabama game at the earliest, but respect for Wilson is a given and Davis will be the go-to guy from the first snap.
Arkansas will be well-served if Wilson matches 2011 when he completed better than 63 percent of his passes with the excellent 24-6 ratio between TD passes and interceptions.
Both Davis and Wilson will fall short unless wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg do better than they did in 2011 and other receivers contribute in a big way — a daunting assignment for young men fresh out of junior college and high school. There is no depth chart in the media guide for the second straight year, but a review of the lineup after spring practice is a reminder that Arkansas is short-handed at a position that was loaded a year ago.
At the wide receiver positions, it was Marquel Wade, Julian Horton and Hunter Jarvis; Hamilton, Maudrecus Humphrey and Kane Whitehurst; Javontee Herndon, Keante Minor and Quinta Funderburk.
Wade, Humphrey, Whitehurst and Funderburk are gone. Other than Hamilton, Horton is the best from 2011 with nine receptions. Herndon was next with eight. Minor played in 11 games, mostly on special teams, and never caught a pass. Jarvis played in two games and did not record any statistics.
JC transfer Demetrius Wilson and pure freshman Keon Hatcher are among the newcomers who will be on the depth chart when fall practice begins. And, quarterback Brandon Mitchell is supposed to get a chance to catch passes.
Ask Arkansas’ head coach about the situation and Smith will tell you that Gragg will be the target far more often than in 2011. To help enable Wilson and Davis, Gragg, who caught 41 last year, might need to equal the 61 tight end D.J. Williams’ grabbed in 2008.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is email@example.com.