Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Smith: Bielema will win
Robert Smith, ESPN football analyst, speaks Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 during the fourth annual Brandon Burlsworth Trophy at the Northwest Convention Center in Springdale.
SPRINGDALE — Robert Smith, the former Ohio State and Minnesota Vikings star running back, said he expects Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema to build a winning a program.
The Razorbacks were 3-9 in Bielema’s first season, including 0-8 in the SEC.
Smith, an ESPN analyst who served as emcee at the Burlsworth Trophy luncheon on Monday, said he likes Bielema’s attitude.
“Bret’s a hard-nosed, no-nonsense guy,” Smith said. “It takes time to go from an offense like Arkansas had before to what Bret likes what to do. He likes to get physical, likes to run the ball.
“I think he’ll instill that in the players and recruit the kind of guys that want to be part of a system which is physical, which I think is a little bit different than a lot of teams around the country.
“There are guys that want to be a part of something like that, particularly offensive linemen. I think it helps in recruiting, quite frankly.”
Thanks Coach Herb
Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, the Burlsworth Trophy winner, thanked Arkansas conditioning coach Ben Herbert for helping him develop into an All-Big Ten player. Herbert was Wisconsin’s strength and conditioning coach before coming to Arkansas this year.
“Coach Herb is awesome,” Abbrederis said. “He meant a lot as far as helping me develop as a player, helping me work on my speed.
“He’ll get you to work pretty hard. He won’t let you get away with anything.”
Tulsa running back Trey Watts, a Burlsworth Trophy finalist, is the son of J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma quarterback and U.S. Congressman.
Trey Watts said he never felt pressure being the son of player who starred for the Sooners.
“I think maybe it might have seemed from the outside like there was pressure, but from where I was standing, I didn’t feel that,” he said. “Not too many guys my age really know who my dad is, so that kind of helped.”