FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas Razorback football team, under third-year head coach Bobby Petrino, continued spring practices with a two-hour workout Wednesday afternoon. The squad practiced inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in shorts and pads.
"We are still building on what we have been doing," defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. "We are using a lot of different combinations of personnel. We are really to trying to see who fits best, who's going to compete and who's going to win that position at the end of spring ball. But I don't think there are a lot of new wrinkles."
The Razorbacks return seven starters on defense, three seniors and four juniors. In addition to numerous new freshmen on the defensive side the ball, Steve Caldwell has joined the Arkansas staff as the defensive ends coach.
"I think every position is having a heated battle," Robinson said. "I think Jake Bequette could be a premiere defensive end for us. I think he feels he's being pushed towards that. I think because we are working some many different combinations, there's really not a first, second or third group. It seems like they are competing at every position. I can't tell you what position is the most heated right now because we haven't put pads on and had contact yet."
Senior Jermaine Love is listed as the starter at middle linebacker on the spring depth chart. Love joins juniors Jerico Nelson and Jerry Franklin as the starters at outside linebacker and will battle with sophomores Terrell Williams and Austin Moss for the starting nod at middle linebacker.
"Jermaine has worked very, very hard these last two years," Robinson said. "He has earned the right to see if he can keep his position. We feel like he has managed himself very well during the offseason. We asked a lot of him during the offseason and he sets a great example. He's one of the guys we brought in early to work out and be where he is supposed to be and he tested very positively. We are looking for guys who respond like that when the opportunity is there. We'll give him every opportunity to battle for his position and try to keep it."
After two solid days of practice, Robinson is ready to see his defense put pads on and make contact for the first time. He also has goals and objectives for Saturday's scrimmage.
"We are always looking for running full speed at the ball and tackling well," Robinson said. "Our biggest goal is to not give up big plays this spring and try not to make that a habit. If it's going to happen, it will be an honest mistake, not a mental mistake. Running full speed to the ball is key because I think we have a very fast football team on defense."
Arkansas is scheduled to return to the practice field at 4 p.m. Friday. Razorback practices throughout the spring are open to the public. The Red-White spring game presented by Cox Digital Cable will be held at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, April 24. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
"I appreciate the hard work and commitment Dean (Campbell) has given to the Razorback Football program. He has been a valuable member of our staff who provided a tremendous amount of assistance in helping us move the program forward in the right direction. I wish Dean the best of luck as he pursues his goals."
Statement from Dean Campbell:
"I've enjoyed my time at Arkansas and appreciate the opportunity Coach Petrino gave me to be a part of building his program. Hopefully, I've left the wood pile stacked higher than when I found it. I felt this was a good opportunity for me and my family that allows us to get closer to home."