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.
Swanson struggles in testing
Arkansas offensive lineman Travis Swanson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
FAYETTEVILLE - Former Arkansas center Travis Swanson didn’t have his best day Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Swanson put up 225 pounds on the bench press 20 times, which was the fewest among the offensive linemen in Indianapolis.
The native of Kingwood, Texas, had a 7.73 time in the three-cone drill, which ranked among the offensive line leaders. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.28, which did not rank among the top 15 for offensive linemen, ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.65 seconds, and turned in a 95-inch broad jump.
Swanson went into the combine as the Razorbacks’ most highly regarded prospect after starting all 50 games of his career at Arkansas. He was rated the No. 3 center in the draft by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, behind Southern California’s Marcus Martin and Colorado State’s Weston Richburg.
Arkansas kicker Zach Hocker also participated in his on-field workout Saturday but did not run or lift, which is common for kickers.
Smith in Indy
Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith said he has one primary goal while he’s at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“Just get down there and run fast,” said Smith, who trained for the combine at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Smith said he worked with renowned speed expert Loren Seagrave for about eight weeks and prepared for the interviewing in Indianapolis.
“I figured the Senior Bowl would be a lot harder than the combine because we had practices and all that, but the combine interviews are going to be more in-depth,” he said.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com and a former Dallas Cowboys executive, rated Smith as his No. 3 senior defensive end behind Jackson Jeffcoat of Texas and Ed Stinson of Alabama.
Smith, Arkansas teammate Robert Thomas and Arkansas State defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers are scheduled to do on-field workouts Monday.
Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings will be paid $320,000 for the 2014 season.
Jennings, 40, replaced Taver Johnson, who was making $250,00, and became the final piece of Coach Bret Bielema’s staff with his hiring Thursday.
The total salary for Arkansas’ assistants in 2014 will be $3.205 million, a decrease of $20,000 from last year’s staff. Addingin Bielema’s salary, the monetary commitment to the on-field football staff for 2014 will be $6.405 million.
Jennings has a $100,000 buyout clause through Feb. 15 of 2015, meaning he would owe Arkansas $100,000 if he takes another job during that time period. The buyout drops to $50,000 after Feb. 15, until the end of the term on June 30, 2015.
New Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jenninngs already has built-in relationships with a pair of his pupils in the secondary.
Jennings recruited Razorback cornerbacks Tevin Mitchel and Will Hines during his six year stint as cornerbacks coach at TCU. Jennings and Hines share the same hometown of Waco, Texas.
Clay Jennings said he’d had an eye on coaching at Arkansas since his stint at Southern Arkansas University in 2000 and was happy to be competing in the SEC.
“Oh, man, it’s the pinnacle of college football, especially the SEC West,” Jennings said. “I mean, it’s a great league. … And the one thing about the fans in the Southeastern Conference, they appreciate great football.” Week to week
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema announced one-week suspensions on Thursday for offensive lineman Mitch Smothers and receiver D’Arthur Cowan, continuing a string of winter warnings.
Tailback Alex Collins came off his one-week suspension last Monday, while a trio that included running back and kick returner Korliss Marshall returned from a one-week hiatus the previous week.
Sports, Pages 25 on 02/23/2014