FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has a deeper linebacker room than at any time in recent seasons with five seniors on the roster though one of those could be on the move.
Grant Morgan, Hayden Henry and Deon Edwards all returned as super seniors which is a term for players at Arkansas using their COVID year. Bumper Pool is also a senior as is Levi Draper. It appears that Draper may be tried at tight end as that position is thin. Even running back Dominique Johnson is getting a look at tight end.
The experience is something Pool mentioned earlier in preseason.
“The biggest thing is leadership,” Pool said. “The young guys can learn from the ways of the older guys. It’s something we haven’t had in a long time, and I think it creates a great environment for the whole team. At practice, we’re practicing smarter. You go into games, and experience is everything. That’s when you learn when and how to fight through different things and certain situations, how to bounce back from losses and having that much experience coming back is probably going to be the biggest thing for our team.”
Pool also talked about the depth and agrees with Morgan and Henry the Razorbacks are better off than in some previous seasons.
“We obviously are older now so there’s a good hierarchy, especially with Grant and Hayden coming back,” Pool said. “D.D, Jackson Woodard, A.P. (Andrew Parker), all the guys that are one play away from going in. We’re excited about the development that they’ve been through and gained throughout the offseason.”
Michael Scherer talked about what went into moving Draper to tight end said “we’ll see” when asked if it was a permanent move.
“Levi is an awesome kid, and I loved having him in my room,” Scherer said. “I hate that he got moved over, but in being as good of a person as he is, he just wanted to help the team in any way possible. We floated the possible idea about him trying out tight end for a few days and seeing how it works out. He was all about it because he wants to do whatever he can to help our team out. I was sad to lose him because we love him in our room but happy because he wanted to contribute to the team in any way possible.”
Scherer, who is set to begin his first year coaching the linebackers, talked about the depth.
“We play in a very physical, tough league,” Scherer said. “The greatest thing I walked into with this room is I have a bunch of kids who have the ability to play at a high level. You can go down the list. You have Grant, you have Bumper, you have Hayden Henry who is playing really good. All three of those guys are playing extremely well right now. Throw DeDe Edwards in there and Andrew Parker, that’s five really solid guys who can go in a game at any time.
“That’ll help provide depth, and as we go throughout the season, it’s going to help everyone in our room out to be able to rotate those guys in the game because we’ll have guys who are fresher. I thought last year as we went through the games and got to the fourth quarter with guys who had played every single rep, they start to get tired in the fourth quarter. Well, now we have plenty of guys who can come contribute to where I know if a guy gets tired, I can take him out and put another one in and not bat an eye.”
Scherer is pleased to get Henry back as one of the super seniors. Scherer was asked what makes Henry so special?
“Exactly what you said,” Scherer said. “He’s really smart. He’s an old school, throwback kid. He’s tough. He loves to hit people. If you watch him at practice, he’s not far off from Bobby Boucher, he’s just a little smarter. He’s a really hard-working kid. He’s a good kid. I love having him in our room. He’s going to be a really good player for us this year.”
Scherer is hoping for good health from Henry and others this season. He hopes the time they spent this summer with Jamil Walker makes a big difference.
“Everybody in the room,” Scherer said. “Him, Grant, Bumper, De De, Andrew Parker, they all did a lot of work this offseason with Jamil and the strength staff, and they got them in really good shape. I know a lot of attention was put towards getting Hayden healthy, and that’s a lot of the reason why his spring reps were limited. I haven’t heard a word since.”
Henry credited his father for helping make him the physical player he is today.
“I can thank my dad for that,” Henry said. “I’ll tell it as a story but when I was little we lived in Atlanta. And as crazy as this sounds my dad would say, ‘Hey, if you make a kid cry today in practice or if you knock a kid out of practice or a game, I’ll take you to Dairy Queen.’ So I was like ‘All right let’s go.’ So I would go out there and just try and knock somebody out. And after practice I would go up to him and say, ‘Dad, I’m going to Dairy Queen. I’m going to Dairy Queen. I knocked somebody out today.’ So I think that translated into my college play. I also think the game is meant to be played a certain way and I appreciate individuals that play it that way. I think it’s a hard, fast, physical game and I think there is only one way to do it.”
Arkansas won’t practice on Wednesday. On Thursday they will put on pads for the first time this preseason.