Louisiana Hogs get a crack at Tigers

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez (left) and linebacker De'Jon Harris talk during a 41-9 loss at Alabama Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez (left) and linebacker De'Jon Harris talk during a 41-9 loss at Alabama Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

BATON ROUGE -- When the Arkansas Razorbacks play a road game, it's common for players from that area to hit up teammates for tickets.

Every player gets four tickets, so if someone from out of state needs extras for family members, it figures his teammates will help him out. Finding extra tickets for the Razorbacks' game against LSU today in Tiger Stadium has been about as intense as the competition should be on the field.

LOUISIANA RAZORBACKS

Arkansas has 14 players from Louisiana, including 12 who likely will play today against LSU. Here’s a rundown:

player;hometown;position;class;comment

De’Jon Harris;Harvey;LB;sophomore;leads team with 81 tackles

Henre Toliver;Marrero;CB;senior;6 career interceptions and 33 career starts

Santos Ramirez;Shreveport;FS;junior;51 tackles, 3 forced fumbles this season

Dwayne Eugene;LB;Marrero;senior;5½ tackles for losses this season #Jared Cornelius;Shreveport;WR;senior;79 catches for 1,163 and 10 touchdowns in career

Cole Kelley;Lafayette;QB;RS-freshman;1,002 passing yards, 8 touchdowns this season

De’Vion Warren:Monroe;WR;freshman;averaging 27.2 yards on 21 kickoff returns

Briston Guidry;DE;Kenner;RS-freshman;12 tackles as a backup

Brandon Martin;WR;Monroe;sophomore;7 catches for 76 yards this season

Kendrick Jackson;FB;Haynesville;junior;strong blocker with 5 starts this season

Nate Dalton;Baton Rouge;DB;3 tackles on special teams this season

Derrick Munson;LB;New Orleans;freshman;olaying on special teams

Giovanni LaFrance;LB;New Orleans;RS-freshman;hasn’t played yet

Josh Paul;LB;Kenner;freshman;redshirting this season #Cornelius suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in third game vs Texas A&M and is eligible for a medical redshirt.

"It doesn't start this week," junior safety Santos Ramirez said. "It really starts during the first week of the season. "Everybody is asking for tickets from the other guys. You ask one guy and he says, 'I already gave my tickets away.' You ask another guy and he says, 'I gave mine away, too.'

"You keep looking around trying to find tickets, and it's tough because of all the guys we have on the team from Louisiana."

There are 14 players from Louisiana on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville roster.

"I'm excited for them to get an opportunity to go home and to play in front of their family," said Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith, a New Orleans native who recruits Louisiana. "It means a lot to them. This is a game with just a little bit of extra sauce on it for those guys."

The Louisiana Razorbacks are among the team's most effective players, particularly on defense where Ramirez (Shreveport), linebackers De'Jon Harris (Harvey) and Dwayne Eugene (Marrero), and cornerback Henre Toliver (Marrero) have combined for 33 starts this season. End Briston Guidry (Kenner) also has gotten significant playing time.

Quarterback Cole Kelley (Lafayette) has started the past four games, and fullback Kendrick Jackson (Haynesville) has five starts. Jared Cornelius (Shreveport), the team's top receiver, started two games before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, and receiver Brandon Martin (New Orleans) made his first start last week.

Defensive back Nate Dalton (Baton Rouge) and linebacker Derrick Munson (New Orleans) play on special teams, and De'Vion Warren (Monroe) has become one of the SEC's top kickoff returners.

"We're certainly glad to have all of those guys on our roster," Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said. "They're fun to coach. They love to play the game of football. It shows on a daily and weekly basis. This game is extremely important to them."

Eight Razorbacks from Louisiana have started at least one game.

"I think they're going to be fired up," LSU Coach Ed Orgeron said. "I'd love to have De'Vion Warren on my football team right now. He's an excellent player.

"Those guys have done a good job of recruiting Louisiana, they've done a good job of evaluating Louisiana talent. I've got to give them some credit."

Eugene is among several Razorbacks from Louisiana who weren't offered scholarships by LSU.

"It's definitely a motivational factor," Eugene said. "It just gives me something to go out and prove. Being it's my last time to play LSU, I want to go out on top with a victory."

Ramirez and Cornelius are close friends and had planned to go to LSU together when both were offered scholarships, but according to Ramirez, the Tigers' coaching staff asked him to wait when he wanted to commit. Cornelius and Ramirez decided to sign with Arkansas.

"This game is personal for me," Ramirez said. "Ever since that moment happened, I always felt [emotional] every time I hear anything about LSU. There's just something about this game. I never really got a chance to just showcase what I can do against these boys, and I feel like this is the year to do it.

"I'm really looking forward to playing these guys, man, because I'm fixing to give it my all out there."

Martin signed with LSU as a high school senior, but he went to Mississippi Gulf Coast College and transferred to Arkansas.

"He's a kid that was committed to LSU," Smith said. "He had to go a different way, then fortunately he came our way after that."

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said he understands his players from Louisiana are pumped up, but he has to make sure they don't try to do too much -- especially Kelley.

"Cole's a young quarterback in his career that's very excited," Bielema said. "He's always a guy that plays with high energy and high emotion, and now he goes to his home crowd. That's a lot of emotions for him to deal with. You've just got to try to temper it all week and get him to play within himself."

Harris, who leads the Razorbacks with 81 tackles, said he grew up a Tigers fan, but he's not upset he wasn't offered a scholarship by LSU.

"I've always wanted to play a game there at Tiger Stadium," Harris said. "At least I'll get to play against them. I know probably the whole LSU team to be honest. It adds a lot of fuel to the game. I want to beat them all. On the field, we're not friends, but after the game we'll get back to being buddy-buddies."

Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who is from Fayetteville, said he can tell in practice how excited his teammates from Louisiana are.

"A lot them didn't get recruited too much by LSU," Greenlaw said. "I feel like they've got a little chip on their shoulder, and they want to go out and show LSU what they missed out on."

Smith, who played at Kansas State, said he can relate to Louisiana players who weren't recruited by LSU.

"When you grow up down there, LSU is it," Smith said. "You have no choice but to know what's going on in Baton Rouge.

"Those kids grow up wanting to be Tigers, and to get a kid to go out of state and play here at Arkansas, and have the opportunity to go back there and play, it's big and it's special."

Sports on 11/11/2017

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