FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS OFF WEEK NOTES
1. Mitchel On Injury, Return
Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel doesn’t remember much about the hit that knocked him out of the Louisiana-Monroe game on Sept. 8. The sophomore doesn’t remember much about riding off the field on a backboard, either.
But Smith was shocked the first time he saw a replay of the high-speed collision. It made him even more appreciative of being in uniform last Saturday, helping Arkansas beat Kentucky 49-7 in Razorback Stadium.
“I’m truly blessed that I’m back out there and playing the game with my teammates,” Mitchel said. “It’s a great feeling. I’m glad to be back out there.”
Mitchel earned his first playing time last Saturday since suffering a concussion in the Louisiana-Monroe loss. He finished with two tackles, sharing time with freshman Davyon McKinney in the weather-shortened win against the Wildcats.
It ended a four-game absence for Mitchel, who needed time to recover from the collision. But the concussion wasn’t the medical issue that was slowing down his return. Mitchel said it was the stomach pain he began to experience while recovering in the hospital, which eventually led to the removal of his gall bladder.
“To come back after a collision like that and getting my gall bladder removed, I think I played very well,” Mitchel said. “I was very proud of myself for coming back.”
Mitchel slowly worked his way the past couple of weeks. He practiced with the team while it prepared for Auburn, but didn’t go through contact work. That changed last week, when he was deemed ready to participate in hitting drills again.
Mitchel said he hasn’t been hesitant about contact because of his concussion. He said it’s “in the past” and stressed, “I’m still me.” Coaches and players said he looks like it.
“He’s healthy. He’s going to practice every day,” Arkansas coach John L. Smith said. “And he goes to practice looking like he’s ready and wanting to hit people, and that is a real good sign, of course, coming back after getting dinged a little bit.”
But Mitchel also admits the hit hasn’t slipped far from his mind.
He is appreciative of his teammates, Arkansas’ coaches and fans for supporting him while he recovered. Arkansas’ training staff, too. Mitchel said encouragement from his family gave him confidence he would be able to return this season.
“You don’t know,” Mitchel said. “I could not be walking. … But luckily I had my head kind of turned when I got hit. I didn’t have my head down.”
2. Former Hogs Sentenced
Former Arkansas football players Marquel Wade and Andrew Peterson were sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation after pleading guilty to one count of residential burglary Wednesday.
Wade and Peterson were sentenced in Washington County Court by Judge William Storey and will serve jail time in a regional facility that has not been determined.
Wade, Peterson and former Razorback Maudrecus Humphrey were arrested on May 12 and charged with three felony counts of residential burglary and one felony count of theft of property. The arrest report said the three stole multiple items — including laptops, textbooks and DVDs — totaling $4,817 from dorm rooms.
All three players, who were suspended indefinitely by coach John L. Smith after their arrests, pleaded not guilty to those counts during a hearing in June. Smith later dismissed the players from the team before preseason practices began in August.
Humphrey’s sentencing date was postponed until Oct. 31.
3. Strange Game
John L. Smith has been on the sideline for plenty of games in lengthy college coaching career. But Smith said Wednesday he had never been part of a game called before its conclusion because of weather until last Saturday’s win against Kentucky.
“I guess it goes down as the strangest game that I’ve ever coached in, to be honest with you,” Smith said. “Now we’ve had some that, of course, have been delayed, and then you come back and play. But this is the first one, where it was just gong to … We would have been lucky to get back on the field at 1 in the morning.”
Smith said he was thankful Arkansas jumped on Kentucky early, building a 14-0 lead before the first rain delay and then taking a 42-0 lead into the abbreviated halftime Saturday. The decision to end the game with 5:08 left in the third quarter may not have taken place if the Razorbacks and Wildcats were still in a close game.
“We’d still be out there,” Smith said. “So thank goodness we were out in front and our kids did perform well enough to get us that type of lead.”
4. Extra Points
A new hearing has been set for Smith’s $40.7 million bankruptcy filing, according to the Associated Press. The hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 14, is to discuss a request by bankruptcy trustee John Lee to add special legal counsel. Smith filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 6. He appeared at a hearing with his creditors last Friday, the day before the Kentucky win. … Defensive tackle D.D. Jones returned to practice this week after missing the Kentucky game. Defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said the senior remains “day-to-day” as Arkansas prepares for Ole Miss.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau