University of Arkansas Football Head Coach Bobby PetrinoPress Conference Opening Statement:“When we called this press conference it was just to give an update on everything, but since that time certain things have transpired. We are going to hire John L. Smith. He is going to come in here and coordinate our special teams. He’ll assist on defense. Where at right now? We really haven’t decided yet. We’ll decide that when we are able to sit down and meet as a staff, which we probably won’t be able to do until after recruiting is over with. I’m extremely fired up about it. He’s a great football coach and is a man that is responsible for a lot of my coaching philosophies. I was fortunate enough to coach for him for a number of years. He’s an expert in special teams. As a head coach, he ran the special teams. He’ll come in and really add a lot of maturity, knowledge and enthusiasm. I can’t be happier than to get him to get him to coach for us. When he got out of it, he worked a year up in St. Louis for the Rams doing some advance scouting. He’s extremely motivated and excited to be back in. I think it will be a great match for us.
We have three transfers in school. I guess one is not really a transfer, he’s a true freshman. Broderick Green is officially enrolled now. He’s working out with the team and doing a good job. Knile Davis is a running back who graduated early from high school and he’s officially enrolled. Both of those young men are big, physical, fast running backs that we’re looking for. Andru Stewart is officially enrolled. He’s transferred from the College of the Sequoias out in California. He’s a guy that played a lot of different positions for them, but we’re looking at him to come in and play corner and nickel for us. He’s physical and tackles real well. He’s a very experience corner that will help us with our depth and compete for a job in spring football.
We also had good news with three medical hardships we put in for. All three guys will get the year back. That is Jelani Smith, Tyler Wilson and Jerell Norton, which really helps us. Now Jelani and Tyler will still be freshman and Jerell will be a junior. That’s exciting and good news for us.”
On John L. Smith“When you coach for someone and coach together you have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. I’m looking forward to it because it will help me as a head coach. It will help me when I have hard decisions to make or things come up there will be a guy there that has a tremendous amount of experience that can give me his opinion. It is going to be a good situation.”
On the weight program:“It officially started yesterday. That was the first day of our offseason. The attitudes are great. I think we are way ahead of where we were a year ago. The players are excited and motivated. We spent Monday and Wednesday with the players meeting individually with our weight staff. They sat down and set goals and standards of how we want to operate. Our strength staff is very excited about it. Obviously, as a coaching staff you miss being around them for a while. We rely on our strength and conditioning staff to do a great job.”
On recruiting:“I think it is going well. We’ve identified areas and are starting to hit all those. We need to finish strong on the defensive side of the ball, which is very important for us. If we can hit on some of these guys we’ve been recruiting and working hard on. Sometimes you have to be patient with young men that want to go out and take visits and see everything. That is something you learn in the recruiting process is to be patient.”
On recruiting this year compared to last:“I’m not sure it is getting any easier, but it is not a mad scramble. A year ago, you are chasing rumors and you are not even really sure about a young man. You sometimes worry then you don’t get to know them well enough. It is a year process or a year and a half. We’ve got a very good list of juniors that we are recruiting for next year. Our coaches have done an excellent job understanding what our needs are and what we are looking for from the guys coming in. Their athletic ability, their character and their commitment to get a degree. It is real important that we keep last year’s recruiting class together and this year’s. That is something that is going to set the standard and the base for us.”
On the quarterback competition:“It is open. It is going to be a good competition and they will separate themselves. What they need to understand, is this part of it is the leadership. From now until spring ball, they get to work on their leadership. From getting guys together to throw to showing how hard they are going to work in the weight room and on selling their teammates that they are the guy that is going to lead the team. Then they get in and watch video together and learn the offense together. It is going to be competitive. They are all very competitive.”