Derby's transition to tight end has been 'seamless'

By: Andrew Hutchinson
Published: Saturday, April 19, 2014
Arkansas tight end A.J. Derby (right) stretches out with teammates Brandon Allen (center) and others during the Razorbacks practice Thursday afternoon in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas tight end A.J. Derby (right) stretches out with teammates Brandon Allen (center) and others during the Razorbacks practice Thursday afternoon in Fayetteville.

— A.J. Derby made the best play of the afternoon for Arkansas when he made a one-handed touchdown catch near the end of Saturday’s practice.

The quarterback-turned-tight end got reps with the first- and second-team during the practice and made several receptions.

“[Derby] is talented,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “The transition has been as seamless as I can imagine. It’s amazing to me how well he catches the ball.”

His touchdown came on fourth-and-14 in a two-minute drill and capped the Razorbacks’ only touchdown drive during the three-drive session.

Brandon Allen quarterbacked two of the sessions, but they ended with a failed fourth down conversion and an interception by Kevin Richardson.

The interception ended Allen’s day, but he looked sharp earlier in the practice.

“I know [Allen] didn’t have success in the two-minute segment, but during the course of practice he threw some very good accurate balls,” Bielema said.

The younger Allen brother, Austin, led the touchdown drive. Despite a pair of false starts and a sack early in the drive, the redshirt freshman connected with four different receivers, including the pass to Derby with less than 15 seconds left on the clock.

Arkansas’ defense was without cornerback Tevin Mitchel this week after he injured his hamstring last Saturday. He’ll miss the rest of spring practice.

During Saturday’s practice, wide receiver Drew Morgan had to be carted off the field because he got a gash on his calf, but he was able to return and participate in practice.

Running back Korliss Marshall returned to practice Tuesday and has worked with the Razorbacks’ offense all week.

“Tuesday was a freak show,” Bielema said. “He had a couple of runs that were off the charts. I think everybody recognizes how exciting he is at that position.”

Bielema also said that defensive tackle Horace Arkadie has been dismissed from the team, but remains in school and a decision on whether he would transfer has not been made.

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