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.
Razorbacks football report:
Hogs put Derby at tight end
Arkansas tight end A.J. Derby picks up a block as the hogs run drills during the Razorbacks practice Thursday afternoon in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Austin Allen’s first pass of the first team period at Arkansas’ practice Thursday found a new mark.
Allen’s pass with the second-team offense was caught by AJ Derby, who moved from quarterback to tight end this week.
Derby remained in his No. 11 jersey, but he worked with the tight ends and was not in a green jersey as all the other quarterbacks wore.
He wound up making several noteworthy catches and took plenty of reps at a position that has been thinned with the knee injury to Mitchell Loewen.
Derby’s position switch came after a pretty good scrimmage performance Saturday. Working with the second team, Derby completed 8 of 13 passes for 145 yards, with a 3-yard touchdown throw to Alex Voelzke and an interception on a tipped pass. Derby guided the offense on a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on his first series, completing 3 of 4 passes for 47 yards.
Derby, 6-5, 246 pounds, began his career at Iowa as a quarterback before being switched to linebacker.
Damon Mitchell, who is behind Brandon Allen, Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey at quarterback, took only a few reps at quarterback in team periods and skeleton periods Thursday.
Hunter Henry had the catch of the day as he turned to his left while heading full speed for the end zone and hauled in a Brandon Allen pass that was behind him with one hand for a 20-yard touchdown during a team period.
Henry’s catch, on the first snap of a red zone skeleton period, led Coach Bret Bielema to call out “Good catch, Hunter!”
Later, in skeleton work,Henry leaped to tip a high pass with one hand, then pinned it to his thigh pad while still sprinting to make his second memorable catch of the day.
Cody Hollister also reached back for a pass slightly behind him and hauled it in for a score in red zone work.
D’Arthur Cowan’s first week back in drills produced some good results.
Cowan got a step on Will Hines and caught a touchdown pass on a deep throw during one-on-one drills.
Later, he was held up by a defensive back and it appeared he wouldn’t make it back to the ball on a comeback throw. But Cowan reacted quickly and plucked the ball just off the artificial turf.
Freshman receiver Jared Cornelius apparently told offensive coordinator Jim Chaney he thought defender Carroll Washington interfered with him while breaking up a short pass over the middle during skeleton work.
“Welcome to the world of the SEC,” Chaney shouted at Cornelius. “They don’t call [anything].”Bush on board
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema announced the hiring of Daniel Bush as the Razorbacks’ assistant recruiting coordinator and director of personnel.
Bush, an Alabama graduate, has been a player personnel specialist in football operations for the Crimson Tide since February 2011. He also spent the summer of 2013 as a volunteer research assistant for the San Francisco 49ers, conducting studies of the offense and defense and analyzing results.
Bush is a summa cum laude graduate of Alabama with a double major in mathematics and history, and he’s working to complete a master’s degree in business administration.
Saturday’s scrimmage, scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, will be open to fans just as last Saturday’s was.
Former Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt was in town to take in practice.
Wannstedt, who helped recommend Robb Smith for the defensive coordinator’s post after working with him at Tampa Bay last season, appeared to be taking notes on the workout.
“He’s a great resource,” Smith said. “He’s kind of pseudo-retired right now.
He still loves being around the game of football. He knows Arkansas pretty well, just from his ties to Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Jones and Jeff Long. I’m anxious to get some feedback from him.”
Quarterback Brandon Allen was sporting what appeared to be specialty sunglasses Thursday.
Cordale Boyd, who had been second-team center behind Luke Charpentier, took a few reps with the first offense at left guard.
Line coach Sam Pittman has given work to Grady Ollison, Mitch Smothers and Boyd at that guard spot opposite Denver Kirkland.
Sports, Pages 23 on 04/11/2014