FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas football team opened fall camp on Saturday with the first practice of the 2006 season under a blazing sun and temperatures reaching into the mid-90s.
A crowd of over 500 turned out to watch the Razorbacks work out in shorts and helmets for just over two and a half hours on the practice fields south of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“We appreciate the fans coming out,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “It was great to have such a big crowd out here. They gave us a lot of enthusiasm.”
Coach Nutt was pleased with the first-day results as the Hogs held a walk-through, film study and meetings prior newcomers taking the field at 3 p.m. and veterans following at 3:30 p.m.
“It was a good first day to be out here,” Nutt said. “We had a full day with a walk-through and film study. The guys came out here very anxious and ready to go. It was very, very hot today on this turf. We expect it to be hot, and that is why we condition and workout all summer. Most of the guys made it through very well. We had a few get overheated, but for the most part it was a very good first day.”
The UA offense put the ball in the air on a regular basis Saturday afternoon with a large group of young wide receivers already challenging for playing time.
“We helped ourselves at wide out,” Nutt said. “The guys we signed have made those lines longer and more talented. They are not just numbers; they are real receivers. This is a talented group of receivers, so you are seeing the ball in the air a little bit more on the first day.”
The challenge from the younger wide receivers has also paid dividends with some of the older wide outs as guys like Chris Baker and Cedric Washington responded with solid practices on Saturday.
Veteran running backs Peyton Hillis and Felix Jones led the ground attack in the season’s first practice.
“Petyon Hillis looks like he is in the best shape he has ever been in,” Nutt said. “They knew immediately they were going to have to step up (after the loss of Darren McFadden). We talked to them the day we got all of the information. They are going to have to roll up their sleeves and be at their best.”
The Razorbacks return to the practice field on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. for a short special teams practice. The Hogs will then take the field at 3:30 p.m. Monday for their next full-scale practice.