For some, the start of football season is with SEC Media Days in July and for others it’s when they start the fall practices in August.
Nah. These days it starts when the freshmen and transfers report for the first time to start the first summer semester when player-led workouts start.
Freshmen and new transfers officially reported Sunday.
— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) May 26, 2019
Chad Morris talked about the importance of those practices all spring long. He did last year, too, but really didn’t have the leaders that understood what the coaches wanted or had the ability to lead teammates.
He calls it the fourth quarter in his angle of four periods to every season — first quarter in preaseason camp, the games the second quarter, spring is the third. Recruiting is every day of the year.
It’s why he brought in Ben Hicks as a graduate transfer from the SMU days. For the offense, he knows exactly what Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock are wanting.
More importantly, it appeared in the spring he may be the leader the offensive side of things needed.
Last year I’m not sure anybody really knew what the coaches wanted during the summer and it didn’t appear there were the players that had the leadership potential. That’s not putting anybody down, but there’s a difference between being a nice guy and being a leader.
It didn’t take long listening to Morris and Craddock in the spring to understand that bringing in Hicks (who had been through four years of their system with the Mustangs) was a legal way to get a player/coach that COULD handle the summer meetings.
He also sold himself on the players by just appearing to be himself.
On the defensive side McTelvin Agim seemed to be a more mature, focused player than he had been previously.
A five-star recruit out of Hope back in 2016, he never really played up to that level. He wasn’t lazy and he certainly wasn’t a problem child but it often appeared he just never really developed his talent or took command of the defense.
In an incident in the spring, Agim had to be separated from another player during drills because apparently he had enough of something. New defensive tackles coach Kenny Ingram backed him away from everybody and got him cooled off.
Later, Sosa (that’s what most people call Agim, in case you’re wondering where that came from) dismissed it as “one of those things” and said, “at the end we’re all just teammates.”
At practices all spring, though, his body language and actions made him look the part of becoming one of the leaders along with linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris for the defense.
Scoota is more vocal and not shy in the least about calling out players on social media, like he did subtly when running back T.J. Hammonds’ return was announced a few weeks ago.
Get your mind right this time they have people depending on you out here! https://t.co/j4ndjXLlc6
— De'Jon “Scoota” Harris (@Scoooota8) May 13, 2019
That is, as they say, putting it out there.
It’s something that’s been missing the last couple of years and, in the opinion of many, is directly reflected in a 6-18 record … and a coaching change.
Morris likely knew last season was going to be short on leaders by at least midway through September. Back-to-back losses to Colorado State and North Texas, well, pretty much nailed the coffin shut on that.
Now there are new faces and by all appearances some new leaders within the team.
And it started Sunday.