Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
No eligibility concerns for Bielema
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema watches his team during practice Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the UA practice field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE All of Arkansas' current players are on track to be eligible for the coming football season, coach Bret Bielema said Wednesday.
Speaking at a luncheon, Bielema said all players on the roster being eligible is "unprecedented" and praised his players' work in the classroom during his 19 months on the job. The university's final summer semester ends Friday.
"Every year you'll see a certain number of kids who at the last minute aren't going to be with the team any longer and you can't say why," Bielema said. "Most of the time it's academic related. Either there is a continuation of something they did in the spring or there was a lack of effort in the summer."
The Razorbacks did have an academic-related dismissal earlier this month when oft-suspended receiver D'Arthur Cowan was let go by the team. But Bielema said his team's cumulative grade point average has risen each semester at Arkansas and had the program's highest graduation rate his first year.
"Those are some nice things that don't have to do with football, except in my mind it has everything to do with football," Bielema said. "If you've got guys that can act right, think right and do what they're supposed to do away from the game, then there's a really good chance they're going to do what you want them to do during the game. I'm excited about that."
Bielema said a pair of incoming offensive linemen, Sebastian Tretola and Cameron Jefferson, are expected to be on campus within the next week. Arkansas is currently processing paperwork for Jefferson, a graduate transfer from UNLV, while Tretola is awaiting academic clearance.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 5.