FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Cornerback Michael Grant took a turn at strong safety on Thursday as the Arkansas football team went through a two-hour practice inside Walker Pavilion.
Junior John West and freshman Rashaad Johnson have run with the first team defense at strong safety throughout spring practice, but Grant has been given a chance to win the position.
“It’s an experiment right now,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “We’re trying to find our best 11 and get them on the field at one time. We’re not throwing away anybody; we’re just trying to see who can play consistently.”
Grant, a junior from Stone Mountain, Ga., played in all 11 games as a backup cornerback last year and made 22 tackles. He was tied for second on the club with three interceptions and tied for third with seven passes broken up.
“You have to tackle,” Nutt said. “There are a lot of people in that safety line. Michael did a good job today for his first time. He has good speed. Now we want to see if he can learn the position.”
As a freshman in 2004, he played in all 11 games with one start at cornerback. He tied for 11th on the team with 29 tackles.
At Stephenson High School, he played cornerback as a freshman and sophomore, but moved to safety as a junior and senior.
Grant was a backup at left cornerback entering the spring. If he remains at safety, Arkansas still has returning lettermen Matterral Richardson, Chris Houston, Darius Vinnett and Michael Coe, among others, at cornerback.
Nutt left open the possibility for Johnson, West or anyone else to win the starting job.
“Nobody has done anything wrong,” he said. “We still want them competing.”
Offensively, the Razorbacks continued spreading the field.
“What this offense does, when you add the formations with threats at each position and spread the field, is give you easier running lanes,” Nutt said. “If we get the wide receivers to be consistent and to be a threat at each position, this offense will be hard to stop if we execute.”
The Razorbacks will practice again on Friday and plan to scrimmage on Saturday.