Getting Defensive

Chris Ash

New Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash has several defenders returning and 10 new junior college or high school signees to work with, but says every one will start from scratch with him as he looks to improve the Razorbacks' defense from a year ago.

New Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash knows that he has a lot of new toys to work with now that he has landed in Fayetteville after having the same job at Wisconsin.

That includes a plethora of holdovers on defense and 10 new junior college standouts and high school stars to add to the mix.

But he is preaching the same thing to all his new defenders.

"I am not really judging these guys off of the film from last year," Ash said. "When I watch the film from last year, I am more concerned about the offenses that we are going to face and what they do schematically more than anything they do about what our guys did.



"I am not asking a lot of questions about our guys," Ash added. "I want to form my own opinion. Once we get a chance to work with them on a daily basis and get an idea of what they can and can not do, what their strengths and weaknesses are – then I will start making judgements. But I am not going to prejudge kids based on what they have done in the past. The past is not going to determine their future with us."

Ash will have the opportunity this spring to work with three junior college defender who are already enrolled in safety Tiquention Coleman, cornerback Carroll Washington and linebacker Myke Tavarres.

"It makes a big difference for most of those junior college players (to be here in the spring)," Ash said. "If you really want to compete for starting jobs and compete at a high level, they need to be here just from a developmental standpoint. A lot of these kids haven't eaten the right way, haven't been trained the right way and they need to be here to get their body where they need to be to compete in the SEC.

"I wasn't here for any of the recruiting process for any of those guys," Ash added. "I did know Tiquention Coleman because we recruited him at Wisconsin and he had an official visit there. I have known him for awhile. It has been fun getting to know the other guys. They have great personalities. They fit in well, they are taking care of business and they are developing and changing their bodies so I am really excited about what I have seen from them."

He is happy about, but also isn't getting overly excited about the six high school players - defensive tackle Ke'Tyrus Marks, linebackers Martrell Spaight and Brooks Ellis, cornerback D.J. Dean and safeties Alex Brignoni, Korliss Marshall and De'Andre Coley - who signed letters of intent on Wednesday.

"We will see what they are all about once they get on campus," Ash said. "I never get too really excited about the recruits until they all get here because they all handle the transition differently. Some of the highly recruited players never pan out and some of the walk ons become some of you best players."

Ash notes that he doesn't get as much caught up in size as he does production.

"It doesn't hurt to have size, but that doesn't impress me," Ash said. "I want to see what you do on the field. There are a lot of big guys out there that look good, but don't play very well. There are a lot of guys that don't pass the eyeball test that play very well. Until these guys put on their helmets and shoulder pads and we get out on the field, there are just getting evaluated every day. We tell them every day is draft day and they are getting evaluated in everything they do.

"We are really trying to find out how they compete and will they strain to finish, do they have leadership ability," Ash continued, "but at the end of the day – are they good football players and you won't know that until you put on the helmet and shoulder pads."

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