Players Adjust To New Positions

The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Mar 23, 2009


FAYETTEVILLE — Several Arkansas players will spend the next three weeks of spring practice getting adjusted to lining up at new positions.

Redshirt freshman Tenarius Wright has been moved from linebacker to defensive end in the hopes that he could give the Razorbacks some added depth at the position.

Wright, whose nickname is “Tank,” showed he had the potential to be a physical linebacker last fall. But he suffered an ankle injury in preseason camp that forced him to redshirt last season.

“We feel like we need a little more competition at defensive end and someone that can help us rush off the edge. So we’re going to give him a look there,” Petrino said, adding that Wright’s move from linebacker might not be permanent.

“(It) doesn’t mean that it’ll be a move that we would stay with, but that’s where we’re going to start him out full time — at defensive end.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Chris Gragg will line up at tight end after starting three games at wide receiver last season. His lone catch as a freshman — a 25-yard reception — came on a fourth-and-1 in the final minutes to help Arkansas pull out a 28-27 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

Gragg has bulked up from 210 pounds to 222 pounds to handle his move to tight end.

“We feel like he’ll grow into being the type of tight end that we want,” Petrino said. “... He’s very, very competitive and very willing to work on blocking. We’ll have to see how he holds up on that.”

Junior Van Stumon, who has been unable to settle into a position after working at linebacker, fullback and defensive end, is now listed as a tight end.



Mallett The Punter?

Apparently, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett has a strong leg to go along with his rifle arm.

With no proven punter on the roster, Petrino said Mallett will get some work during spring practice punting the football. Linebacker Stephen Barnett will also doing some punting.

“Ryan certainly can do it. He’s got great flexibility, (and) he can get the ball up high,” Petrino said of Mallett’s punting ability. “I think that there will definitely be some times during games where you’ll see him do that.”

Briton Forester, a punter who has signed with Arkansas, will be on campus in the fall. Jeremy Davis, last year’s punter, has graduated.



Fast Man

Turns out, sophomore Dennis Johnson is one fast running back and kick returner.

Petrino said Johnson clocked the fastest time in the 40-yard dash — 4.3 seconds — when all the players were tested at the end of the team’s offseason workout program.

Wide receiver London Crawford and cornerbacks Greg Gatson and Isaac Madison also posted fast times, but Petrino said “nobody was close to Dennis.”

“It was pretty fast,” Petrino said. “Pretty impressive.”



Green Update

Petrino said he hasn’t received any news on the status of junior running back Broderick Green, who has petitioned the NCAA for a waiver that would allow him to be eligible immediately after transferring from USC in the winter.

“We still don’t know anything new on his status, and I don’t anticipate we will until maybe after spring ball is over with,” Petrino said.

In the meantime, Green will practice with the Razorbacks.


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