FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks wrapped up spring practice with the Red-White game in Razorback Stadium last Saturday.
But unlike previous years, the final practice of the spring doesn’t mean Arkansas’ coaching staff is done working with players for the rest of the summer.
The Razorbacks plan to take advantage of an NCAA rule change that allows players to be required to participate in activities like weight training and conditioning during the summer program. Coaches now are permitted to be present for the eight hours of activities too, which can also include up to two hours of film review.
The rule was changed last October. Previously, summer weight training and conditioning workouts were deemed “voluntary.” Strength and conditioning staff members also were the only ones permitted to monitor the workouts.
“I think that will be a benefit for a program like ours that is trying to come up from the bottom and get to a place in the SEC that we’re comfortable,” Bielema said.
Bielema met extensively with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert to develop the best plan to go along with the rule change.
He said Arkansas won’t always schedule two hours of required film room work, adopting more of a “7 to 1” formula during certain weeks of the summer program.
Some of that time will be devoted to what Bielema has labeled “Hoganese.”
“It’s a language that is spoken for us to understand and our opponents not to,” Bielema said. “It’s a language that the better we can speak it and be able to understand what it means, to condense our communication at the line of scrimmage and play with the most aggressive, physical and fast tempo.”
The hands-on approach under the new NCAA rules doesn’t mean full-scale practices are permitted. Those remain player-run and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen said it will require leaders to “get things rolling” in preparation for fall camp.
But Bielema believes Arkansas’ plan under the NCAA’s new guidelines for summer interaction between players and coaches will prove valuable to the Razorbacks.
“It’s something that we’ve really put a lot of time and effort into and something I’m very excited to work with,” Bielema said.
Flowers at Tight End?
Arkansas will be counting on Trey Flowers to lead the defensive line next fall. But Bielema also thinks Flowers can help on offense by playing some tight end as well.
“I know it’s something that he has agreed to do and we’ll get into that in the fall camp as well,” Bielema said.
It’s part of a plan Bielema laid out to Flowers over the winter, when the junior was deciding whether to enter the NFL Draft or return to Arkansas. Part of the plan also held Flowers out of spring scrimmages as the Razorbacks prepared for 2014.
Flowers, who played some tight end in high school, said Bielema brought of idea of helping some on offense to him. He said it could be an opportunity to showcase his athleticism by catching a few passes as well during the 2014 season.
“I’d like to think I’ve still got good hands,” Flowers said. “I think I can contribute on offense and catch one or two passes from (Brandon Allen). … What defensive player doesn’t want to get his hands on the ball and score a touchdown?”
Arkansas running back Korliss Marshall said after the spring game he’s hoping to reach the 220-pound mark in the offseason. Bielema said last week that goal is “probably ambitious” for Marshall, who was listed at 203 pounds this spring.
“All he is saying is that he wants to get a little bit thicker and a little bigger,” Bielema said. “If he puts on 20 … Well, I could see 10 pounds just from eating right and training right and actually I think he could become faster with weight.”
Pruitt Still Working
Arkansas is still waiting to find out if offensive line signee Jovan Pruitt will be able to join the program. Pruitt, who attends Dallas Bishop Dunne High, is still working on becoming academically eligible to enroll at Arkansas.
He was one of four offensive linemen signed by the Razorbacks last February, joining Sebastian Tretola, Frank Ragnow and Brian Wallace.
“He wasn’t a qualifier at the time when we signed, but that was something that we decided to do,” Bielema said. “If he doesn’t make it, we have plans set in place for him to go to a junior college and for us to be able to recruit him from that place.”
Former Arkansas tight end Austin Tate was announced as a member of the 2014 NFF Hampshire Honor Society last week.
The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame manages the program, which is comprised of college football players who maintained a cumulative 3.2 grade point average or better throughout their college career, were a starter or significant contributor in their final year of eligibility and met all NCAA-mandated progress towards degree requirements.
Tate became the fourth Razorback named to the society in its eight years. Punter Dylan Breeding (2013), punter Jeremy Davis (2009) and fullback Farod Jackson (2008) also were announced as members of the society during their careers.