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Nutt Looks For Gunner On Special Teams
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Aug 5, 2007
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Houston Nutt mentioned several times last season how much the loss of free safety Michael Grant to a serious knee injury affected the special teams.
Grant, a former track and field star, was considered
’ gunner — the player on kickoffs and punts who specializes on running down the sideline to tackle the returner.
Grant’s absence was most noticeable in a 31-26 loss to LSU on Nov. 24, in which Trindon Holiday broke loose to return a kickoff 92 yards for a late touchdown. It proved to be the game-winner.
Nutt said Sunday that he’s got some “good candidates” to be this year’s gunner, including Grant and cornerbacks Shedrick Johnson and Jamar Love.
“We’re working a lot of guys there right now, and hopefully we’ll have four really step up for us,” Nutt said.
Fish Accepts Number Change
Arkansas wide receiver Reggie Fish arrived at the start of preseason practice with a new jersey number, sporting the No. 1 instead of the No. 7 he wore last season.
Fish has changed numbers several times since he’s been at Arkansas, and he said it was coach Houston Nutt’s idea for him to do it again.
“Coach Nutt said, ‘Hey, what do you think about (No.) 1?’ (I said), ‘That’s fine with me, whatever (number) you want to see me in,” Fish said. “He pretty much wanted to see me in (No.) 1, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll ride with it.’”
Fish said he wasn’t exactly sure why Nutt wanted the junior to go back to wearing No. 1 — the same number he had in 2005 before switching to No. 7.
But the junior insisted that he didn’t change numbers as a way to forget about last season, in which he fumbled a punt in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game that proved costly.
“This is like my fourth or fifth number change, so I’m kind of immune to switching numbers. It’s really no big deal,” said Fish, who had several good catches during Sunday’s practice.
“I was always told, ‘The number doesn’t make the player; the player makes the number.’”
Former Springdale High wide receiver Damian Williams wore No. 1 for the Razorbacks last season before transferring to the University of Southern California.
Heat Takes A Toll
Cornerback Jerell Norton was carted off the field at the end of Sunday’s practice because of an apparent cramp. Wide receiver Robert Johnson, also looking to be bothered by cramps, stopped several times during practice to have his legs stretched by an athletic trainer.
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