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.
Three more leave Arkansas program
A.J. Turner tackles Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott during the 4th quarter of the Razorbacks 27-30 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 in Little Rock.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said Tuesday that linebackers A.J. Turner and Myke Tavarres and running back Nate Holmes are seeking transfer options and will not return to the Razorbacks.
The three join cornerback Ray Buchanan Jr., who Bielema said a few weeks ago had elected to transfer.
“They weren’t in the plans this year,” Bielema said. “None of those guys really fit into what we were executing out on the field, so I had a conversation with them midway through the semester and just said, ‘Hey, you really want to play football, the best opportunity for you may be to be somewhere else.’
“They went through the process, started looking at different options at that time, and hopefully they’ll find a happy spot.”
Turner, who played at East Poinsett County High School, redshirted this season after undergoing surgery to repair an ailing wrist. A six-game starter with 53 tackles as a true freshman, he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after the 2012 season.
He got off to a bad start with the new coaching staff last spring with his wrist injury and other issues.
“I think just as the season progressed and as he saw things unfold, he knew it wasn’t going to be an environment that he could maybe survive in here to get where he needs to be and put himself in a better spot,” Bielema said.
Talk of Turner’s possible departure cropped up during the season, but Bielema had not previously indicated that the in-state player was on his way out.
Turner could not be reached for comment.
Holmes, who emerged as the team’s top kickoff returner midway through his freshman season of 2012, saw his role diminish this fall. One of the fastest Razorbacks, he played in just 4 games this season and had 6 carries for 17 yards.
“I just felt like I wasn’t getting the playing time that I should have,” Holmes said. “There’s just been a lot of frustration going through these coaching changes.”
Holmes said the schools on his list of potential transfer locations include Western Kentucky, Northwestern (La.) State, Southern University, McNeese State and Sam Houston State.
Bruce Swinton Jr., an assistant coach at Holmes’ high school in Port Arthur,Texas, said Holmes had reached out to former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who led Western Kentucky to an 8-4 record in his first season this fall.
Tavarres, a junior college signee from Lake Oswego, Ore., never broke into the two-deep and did not post a tackle in 2013.
Bielema said there could be other attrition, possibly for medical or academic reasons.
“I didn’t want to come in last year and just be this guy that eliminated 20 people and have this cloud hanging over us,” he said. “There’s guys that I thought probably weren’t going to make it. I talked them into staying and giving it a try, and if they can’t make it they move on now and everybody is better because of it.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 12/18/2013