Small Works At Linebacker; Johnson Misses Practice For Family Reason


FOUR DOWNS – NOTES FROM PRESEASON CAMP

1. Small At Linebacker

Arkansas senior Kiero Small was supposed to get some work at linebacker during preseason camp. But through six days of practice, Small never left fullback.

That changed Wednesday.

Small shed his red jersey, which is worn by offensive players, and put on a white one for Arkansas’ workout on the intramural fields. He spent the entire day at linebacker, where injuries to starters Alonzo Highsmith (hamstring) and Tenarius Wright (possible concussion) have hurt Arkansas’ depth at the position.

Small – who was told before camp began he would get snaps at both positions – worked with the second-team defense while Highsmith and Wright continued to recover from their injuries. He made one notable play during 11-on-11 drills, tackling running back Kody Walker after a short gain.

“I’m selfishly wanting him back there on my side of the ball,” Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said. “But we’re doing what’s best for everybody right now. I think it’s helping out on defense right now with a couple of guys injured.”

It’s not known how long Small will remain with the linebackers, but offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said it would be hard “not to love that kid.”

Of course, Petrino feels the same as Wilson and doesn’t want to see Small in a white jersey very long.

“He gives you everything he can every play,” Petrino said. “He’s smart. So for the team it’s great. Now if it’s a scrimmage I’d rather have him on our side of the ball.”

2. Johnson Misses Practice

Running back Dennis Johnson did not attend Wednesday’s practice and Petrino said it was for a family reason. Running backs coach Tim Horton provided a few more details via Twitter later, indicating Johnson’s grandmother was in the hospital.

Arkansas leaned on Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo and Kody Walker for the bulk of the carries in non-tackling work without Johnson. Freshmen Jonathan Williams, Nate Holmes and Donovan Roberts also earned carries with Johnson not available.

Johnson wasn’t the only player Wednesday.

Highsmith, Wright, safety Eric Bennett, defensive tackle Lavunce Askew and tight end Brett Weir didn’t practice. Linebacker Braylon Mitchell missed most of the workout before arriving to participate in the final 30 minutes.

3. Is This Thing On?

Petrino spent the second half of practice wearing a microphone as part of a season-long special being filmed by CBS College Sports on the Razorbacks. Petrino was asked if he felt uncomfortable with it on and said he didn’t notice.

“He always coaches the way he coaches. We’ll see what they put on there,” said Wilson, referring to any censoring which may be required.

Said Petrino: “Hopefully there’s a beep.”

The series – which is expected to span seven episodes – will begin later this month.

4. New addition?

It appears Arkansas has a former defensive coordinator working in a non-coaching role on the football staff this preseason. Former Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt is with the program this fall, according to the Seattle Times.

The Razorbacks would not confirm Holt’s addition – or what role he has with the program – on Tuesday night. Holt was watching the Razorbacks practice, though.

Holt was fired as Washington’s defensive coordinator after the 2011 season, which ended with a 67-56 loss to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. He was John L. Smith’s defensive coordinator at Idaho and also worked on his staff at Louisville.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau