Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Top 10 predicted for Hogs
Arkansas signee D’Arthur Cowan of Olive Branch, Miss., will be one of four new Razorbacks receivers, along with high schoolers Keon Hatcher and Eric Hawkins, and junior college transfer Demetrius Wilson. Coaches expect big things from the foursome.
FAYETTEVILLE Noted college football analyst Phil Steele predicts Arkansas will be rated No. 9 in the first Associated Press poll next August.
Steele noted Arkansas will return quarterback Tyler Wilson and tailback Knile Davis, the Razorbacks are coming off their most successful back-to-back seasons since 1988-1989 and they will play both Alabama and LSU at home this season.
Steele touts that he has hit nine of the 10 teams in his projected AP top 10 each of the past three seasons.
Arkansas coaches did not linger on the topic of losing premier receiver Dorial Green-Beckham on Wednesday’s national signing day.
While Green-Beckham, the nation’s consensus No.
1 prospect, made a signing-day decision to play at Missouri, the Razorbacks had still netted at least four receivers.
The freshmen signees are Keon Hatcher, Eric Hawkins and D’Arthur Cowan, and junior college wideout Demetrius Wilson has the most polish.
“We expect him to be able to come in and play immediately and contribute,”Arkansas receivers coach Kris Cinkovich said of Wilson.
“We’ve been confident watching him for two years that he’ll be able to do that.”
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said the receiving group will be positioned to make plays for years.
“Eric is fast, one of the fastest players in the country,” Petrino said. “He’ll run by people and make plays.
“D’Arthur Cowan has the ability to jump up and made plays above his head. ... Keon is strong and physical, and you see him break tackles and run through people.
“Demetrius ... gets in and out of his breaks, has a great stride. He catches the ball well. I think he has a chance to be special.” Mentor backs
Arkansas running back signees Jonathan Williams and Donovan Roberts understand that earning playing time in a crowded offensive backfield behind veterans Knile Davis, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo would be difficult this season, but they signed with the Hogs for a reason.
“They’re both tough kids, hard-nosed kids who come from very good programs,” Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton said.
“They’ve kind of been the bell cows of their team.
... Both of them wanted to come and be mentored by Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson, which is a little unusual.” Versatility
In addition to the guiding precepts of recruiting taller and longer players to the roster, Arkansas has stressed adding versatile players.
This class follows that philosophy with athletes like Defonta Lowe, Nate Holmes and others.
Lowe played multiple positions at Bearden, including quarterback.
“He made a lot of plays,” Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino said. “He came to camp and said, ‘I’m coming here to show you guys I’m good enough to get a scholarship.’ He certainly jumped off the charts at you as far as his competitiveness and toughness.”
Holmes is being listed as a running back, at least for now.
“Nate’s a guy that could play running back, could play wideout, could play corner,” Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton said. “I think that’ll be a good fight. As the running backs coach, it’s good to have a head coach that’s an offensive guy, so I think I’ll have a chance to get him.” No Bobby
ESPNU’s lengthy coverage of national signing day featured a long succession of college coaches from around the country, including most SEC coaches and new Arkansas State Coach Gus Malzahn. But it did not include Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino, whose Razorbacks finished No. 5 last season and project by many as a top 10 team in 2012.
Asked if being included as an interview subject on the ESPNU coverage was ever a consideration for him, Petrino said, “I don’t think it was ever an option for me.” Adams shines
Arkansas’ Joe Adams overcame an early fumble to lead all receivers at the Senior Bowl last weekend with eight catches for 133 yards.
The next-closest receiver in catches and yardage was Arizona’s Juron Criner, who had six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Adams drew raves in practice early in the week, with a host of media members writing and Tweeting about a series of great catches he made, including a layout on a reception from Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden.
Arkansas’ Jake Bequette, who checked in at 6-4 1/2 and 264 pounds on the Senior Bowl weigh-in day, played as a reserve outside linebacker in the game and did not record a tackle.
Arkansas players on the initial list of invitees to the NFL Combine are receivers Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, and defensive end/outside linebacker Jake Bequette. The NFL has not yet released its official list of combine participants.
The Combine will be held Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis, home of today’s Super Bowl.
Scout.com projects Wright as a third-round pick, and Adams and Bequette as fourth-rounders.
Arkansas State’s Demario Davis, an outside linebacker, is also on the invitation list.
Sports, Pages 25 on 02/05/2012