Wilson: Razorbacks Won’t Back Down From Expectations


1. Fan Festivities

Arkansas coaches and players participated in a kickoff luncheon in Springdale on Friday. Roughly 1,000 fans attended the annual luncheon, which is in its fourth year.

Captains Tyler Wilson, Alfred Davis, Tenarius Wright, Knile Davis, Travis Swanson and Alonzo Highsmith participated in a question-and-answer session with emcee Jimmy Dykes. Wilson was asked how he and the Hogs handled expectations.

“We’ve always handled expectations the same exact way,” Wilson said. “We’re not going to back down from them. Especially when you’ve got a good football team.”

Other players participated as well. It included tight end Austin Tate, who produced a laugh-inducing impersonation of coach John L. Smith. Freshman tight end Alex Voelzke also shared his impersonation of Wilson.

“As you all know, I was with Peyton Manning as his football camp,” Voelzke said in his best Wilson voice. “I played a little golf with Brett Favre. He told me we were going to be great this year. He said we’re going to be a great. So we’ve got to have some good focus this practice because I have a tee time in two hours.”

Smith and athletic director Jeff Long also addressed the crowd Friday.

Smith called his position with the Razorbacks “the best job in the entire country” and re-emphasized Arkansas’ goal to “win the West, then win the rest” in reference to the SEC West, SEC title game and the national championship. Long, meanwhile, applauded players and coaches for their persistence through offseason turmoil.

“I could not be more proud of the way these young men have stood up to adversity and looked to each other and come together as a team,” Long said. “I’m extremely proud of the way they’ve represented the University of Arkansas.”

2. Scrimmage Time

Arkansas’ interaction with fans will continue when it participates in Fan Day festivities today. The Razorbacks will sign autographs in Bud Walton Arena from noon to 2 p.m. Arkansas then will scrimmage in Razorback Stadium at 7 p.m.

Smith said it is a “big scrimmage” for the Razorbacks as they wrap up their final day of preseason camp. Tonight’s scrimmage, which will be the final workout open to the public, is Arkansas’ second major full scrimmage of the preseason.

“We had a lot of rusty spots here and there,” center Travis Swanson said of last Saturday’s scrimmage. “But throughout this week we worked on those rusty spots and have really polished it up well and I know we’re excited for this scrimmage.”

3. Johnson Misses Practice

Running back Dennis Johnson did not attend Friday’s practice and may not be available for tonight’s scrimmage. Running backs coach Tim Horton said via Twitter Johnson’s grandmother, Ira Williams, has passed away.

Johnson missed three days of practice earlier in preseason camp to be with his family. The running back did return in time for last Saturday’s scrimmage, rushing for a team-high 76 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Ronnie Wingo, Kody Walker, Jonathan Williams, Nate Holmes and Donovan Roberts will likely handle the bulk of the rushing duties tonight. It’s not clear whether Arkansas intends to scrimmage Knile Davis tonight.

4. Extra Points

LB Tenarius Wright did not participate in Friday’s practice, watching from the sidelines. Wright, S Eric Bennett and LB Alonzo Highsmith continue to be limited by injuries. … WR Keante Minor, who appeared to sustain a shoulder injury earlier this week, did some conditioning work with the training staff while Arkansas practiced Friday. … LB Kiero Small took some snaps with the first-team defense Friday, while freshman LB Otha Peters was slowed by what appeared to be a minor injury issue. … Arkansas announced Friday that Stadium Drive will be closed to traffic through midnight Saturday. No vehicles will be on the street during Fan Day festivities.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau