Four Downs: Smith Confident Arkansas' Future Is Bright; Hamilton Accepts Senior Bowl Invitation


FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. LSU NOTES

1. Smith On Arkansas’ Future

Arkansas hasn’t enjoyed a season to remember in 2012. But Arkansas coach John L. Smith said Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference it won’t take long for the Razorbacks to regain their spot as a staple in the top 25.

“Definitely. Why not? I mean, my goodness. It’s going to happen,” Smith said.

Arkansas (4-7, 2-5 in SEC) spent most of 2009 and 2010 ranked in the top 25 and among the top programs in the conference under former coach Bobby Petrino. The Razorbacks have stumbled on hard times this fall, though, entering the season finale against LSU with its worst record since the 2008 team finished 5-7.

Arkansas is in danger of losing eight games for the first time since 1990. But Smith is confident the “overall state of the program is going to be fine” because of a freshman class that includes key contributors like running back Jonathan Williams, cornerback Will Hines, receiver Mekale McKay and linebacker A.J. Turner.

“It’s going to take some time, so understand it’s going to take a year or so,” Smith said. “But these young guys, particularly this freshman class, is a great class. You just have to continue to recruit, continue to coach, and things are going to be fine.”

Smith isn’t expected to be around to see it after working under a 10-month contract this season. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long is searching for the program’s long-term solution and, while not ruling anything out, won’t keep Smith in consideration.

But Smith, who said he was going to be overly emotional this week as he prepared for the final game, said Arkansas will be fine no matter who is hired.

“The greatest thing you have going is you have great facilities going, you have a program here, you have a great administration, you have great fans that are the best I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “With all those positive things, it’s a positive outlook.”

2. Hamilton Accepts Invitation

Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton has accepted an invitation to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl announced the news Wednesday via Twitter.

Hamilton has set school records in receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,237). He will get a chance to add to those totals Friday, when the Razorbacks play LSU.

The Senior Bowl, held in Mobile, Ala., is regarded as one of the top events leading into the NFL Draft. Teams are coached by NFL staffs, while general managers, coaches and scouts from every organization will be in attendance all week. Hamilton is regarded as one of the top receivers in the 2013 draft class to date.

The 2013 Senior Bowl will be played on Jan. 26 in Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised by the NFL Network.

3. Miles-Nash Limited

Smith said senior Colton Miles-Nash should be able to play in his final game Saturday, but will be limited because of a knee injury. Miles-Nash was injured early in the 45-14 loss to Mississippi State last Saturday.

“Is he going to be able to play defense? No,” Smith said. “Hopefully he can do all the special teams duties. That would probably be the most we can expect. But he wants to play in the worst way. So we’ll make every effort to make sure that he does.”

4. Miles Eager For Fayetteville

Arkansas and LSU will play in Fayetteville for the first time since 1992, when the Razorbacks first entered the SEC. So LSU coach Les Miles said his team, which has grown accustomed to playing the Hogs in Little Rock, is eager for a new venue.

“Having played in Little Rock before, I recognize there’s a very strong home field advantage for them there,” Miles said. “They have a very large population base of Arkansas and friends. Being in Fayetteville will be a new experience for me, but I recognize that’s the home of the university and we’re looking forward to playing there and seeing a very quality SEC venue.”

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau