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.
Hog Futures DWAYNE EUGENE:
Eugene making changes again
On 4th down and two in the second quarter, Rummel cornerback Dwayne Eugene (7) drops Dutchtown wide receiver Corey McBride (6)short of the first down during the playoff game between Dutchtown and Archbishop Rummel at Joe Yenni Stadium on Friday, November 16, 2012. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
This is the fifth in a series profiling newcomers on the 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks football team.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Dwayne Eugene wasn't sure about making the switch from running back to safety as a high school freshman when he arrived at Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel.
"There was a little resistance there at first about moving to defense," Rummel Coach Jay Roth said. "We kind of had to talk him into it."
Dwayne Eugene glance
HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-0, 225 pounds
POSITION Outside linebacker
HIGH SCHOOL Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel
HOMETOWN Marrero, La.
NOTEWORTHY Three-year starter at free safety for Rummel, but will move to outside linebacker at Arkansas. … Combined for 241 tackles, 9 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries in three high school seasons. … Helped Rummel to a 36-5 record as a starter, including 16-0 in 2012 when the Raiders won the Louisiana Class 5A state championship. … Rated the No. 32 prospect in Louisiana by 247Sports. … High school teammate of cornerback Henre’ Toliver, who also signed with Arkansas. … Other scholarship offers included Arizona and Tulane. … Committed to Arkansas the summer before his senior season.
Eugene said he was nervous because he never had played on defense.
"I was used to playing offense and having the ball in my hands, making big plays and controlling what I do," Eugene said. "On defense, you have to react to what the offense does and try to stop them. So I didn't know what to expect."
Eugene became convinced safety was a good spot for him during the team's spring game prior to his sophomore season.
"That's when I fell in love with defense," Eugene said. "I met up with a player head-on as we were both running down the sideline, and I hit him and flipped him. He fumbled, and I recovered the ball.
"My teammates went crazy and the coaches were excited. I went, 'Yeah, I can get down with this.' "
Eugene became a three-year starter at free safety for the Raiders and helped Rummel -- a private school in suburban New Orleans -- to a 36-5 record, including 16-0 in 2012 when the team won the Louisiana Class 5A state championship.
After a strong performance at an Arkansas football camp the summer before his senior season, Eugene accepted a scholarship offer from the Razorbacks. He maintained his commitment, turning down offers from Arizona and Tulane, and signed with Arkansas.
"When I visited Arkansas, it was like love at first sight," Eugene said. "I made my decision and stayed with it, stayed strong and didn't look back."
Eugene, 6-1, is moving to outside linebacker at Arkansas. This summer he's increased his weight to about 225 pounds after playing at 210 last season.
While Eugene said he enjoyed being the last line of defense at safety, he's excited about playing linebacker.
"I think a linebacker gets more action than a safety does, and I like to get physical," he said. "I'd rather be in the box."
Eugene had 241 tackles, 9 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries his three seasons starting for Rummel. His high was 94 tackles as a junior.
"He's very intelligent and a sure tackler," Roth said. "He was the leader defense as far as recognizing formations and making sure everybody was lined up where they were supposed to be. He was always in the right spot at the right time."
Rummel defensive coordinator Eddie Jacquillard said Eugene was big for a high school free safety but had the speed and coverage skills to excel there.
"We liked to play him over the top, but I can see why Arkansas likes him as an outside linebacker," Jacquillard said. "As well as he could roam around back there and make plays on the ball for us, he was very strong in run support, so Arkansas is getting a guy who can tackle and cover.
"His hands are good, and he has fabulous feet. When we did our footwork drills, you could just film him and that would be like a drill tape for a lot of coaches. He does it like you want to do it."
Jacquillard said Eugene is one of the best people he's coached, that he constantly was praised by teachers and always handled himself well off the field.
"We fortunate to have him," Jacquillard said. "I think Arkansas will feel the same way about him, too."
Roth said Eugene compares favorably with two other former Rummel safeties: Craig Steltz, an All-American at LSU who is now with the Chicago Bears, and Carvin Johnson, who played at Michigan.
"We've had some real good safeties here, and Dwayne fit that mold with his size and his range," Roth said. "So I'd say his move to defense worked out pretty well. It was his ticket to college football, that's for sure."
Sports on 07/04/2014