Khari Johnson Trying to Fill Big Shoes at Cornerback

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FAYETTEVILLE — Khari Johnson is a junior cornerback who has played behind Montaric Brown, Hudson Clark, LaDarrius Bishop and others in his first two years.

With Brown now headed to the NFL the chance for Johnson to see more playing time has obviously increased. This spring Johnson has seemed to put an emphasis on perfection even restarting some drills if necessary.

“I would say a lot of it would be the big shoes I have to fill — a lot of us, a lot of the cornerbacks — in terms of Montaric Brown last year,” Johnson said. “Just trying to live up to that. Also, I’m trying to improve myself every day to Coach (Barry) Odom’s standards, coach (Sam) Pittman’s standards. Now the standard is the standard as they tell us. Trying to be my best fit every day, that’s my emphasis.”

Johnson had five tackles, including four solo, and one pass breakup in 2021. In 2020 as a true freshman out of Suffield (Conn.) Academy Johnson played in eight games, with one start, finishing with eight tackles, three solo and one pass breakup. Tuesday was the first practice since March 16 due to spring break. How was it?

“I would say it’s a testament to Coach (Jamil) Walker and his staff for giving us a schedule to follow throughout spring break,” Johnson said. “A lot of us, I felt like, followed through with that, so we were able to have an exciting practice. Still have to clean up little things, like transitioning on and off the field, but we’re getting there. We’ll be there.”

Tuesday’s practice was another physical one despite once again not being in full pads.

“As you all know, this is the SEC and it’s Arkansas,” Johnson said. “We kind of pride ourselves on the tough style of football. At the end of the day, it’s all love on both sides. We’re just trying to get each other better and try to compete.”

A difference for Johnson and the cornerbacks is Dominique Bowman coaching them following Sam Carter heading to Ole Miss.

“He’s a player’s coach,” Johnson said. “I really enjoy Coach Bowman. He’s always got something witty to say, and he’s always trying to push us to be our best player. He’s never getting too down on us, so it’s exciting to learn from him. I always find new ways to improve my craft around him.”

Arkansas added cornerback Dwight McGlothern from LSU out of the transfer portal. Johnson is impressed with the newcomer

“I love his energy that he brings to the defensive back group,” Johnson said. “He brings a lot of wisdom, coming in as a transfer. He’s a dude that gets the group to get up every day and compete at practice. So it’s fun having him along.”

Jaylen Lewis is a true freshman from Tennessee who is trying do what Johnson did two year’s ago and play immediately.

“Definitely proud of him,” Johnson said. “He’s maturing at a fast rate. He’s kind of like a sponge. He’s getting a lot of information from Coach Bowman and some of the older people that play his position. He’s really fit in well. Proud of him.”

Arkansas will hit the practice field today as well before Saturday’s scrimmage that is closed to the media and public.


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