Razorbacks report:

Receiver's highlights thrill coach

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, February 11, 2018
An Arkansas Razorback helmet at Chad Morris introductory press conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
Photo by Andy Shupe
An Arkansas Razorback helmet at Chad Morris introductory press conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks football Coach Chad Morris touted the team's lone receiver signee, Michael Woods of Magnolia, Texas, who quickly followed Morris and his offensive coaches after they made the switch from SMU.

Morris made the remarks about the 6-2, 180-pound Woods on national signing day while speaking at the Signing Day on the Hill event at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Springdale.

"He could have gone anywhere in the country," Morris said while showing highlights of Woods. "This guy has all the talents to be the next great one."

After showing a clip of Woods high-pointing a deep pass near the end zone, then eluding a defensive back who was in solid coverage, Morris added: "I believe the kids nowadays would say he got 'Moss'ed,' " referencing the Monday Night Football segment featuring former NFL great Randy Moss.

Morris said Woods has been one of the team's best early testers in winter conditioning with strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll and his staff.

"You'll see him on the field this year," Morris said.

Reunion

Defensive coordinator John Chavis and defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell are reunited at Arkansas after spending 14 years together at Tennessee during a successful run from 1995-2008 that included the 1998 BCS national championship, two SEC titles and five SEC East crowns.

"When he called me and Coach Morris called me there was no hesitation; we knew what we were going to do," said Caldwell, who was also defensive ends coach at Arkansas from 2010-2012.

Caldwell, a graduate of Arkansas State University, left a post at Boise State to return to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

"Steve's a great man," Chavis said. "Steve's a great football coach and a great recruiter.

"We spent 15 years together, won a lot of ball games. Won a lot of conference championships and won a national championship. It's great. I would have liked for it to happen earlier than it did. But the opportunity was there and it's big."

Chavis and defensive backs coach Ron Cooper worked together for three years at LSU (2009-2011) and last season at Texas A&M.

"The kids love him," Chavis said of Cooper. "He's a great man and a great football coach."

Said Cooper: "We worked together and we were part of a lot of success together for a few years. He's a great man. He'll help develop the guys as football players and also off the field, too. He's excited. We're all excited and looking forward to the challenge of getting this team ready, supporting Coach Morris and putting the best defense on the field to help us possibly win a championship."

Deer run

Chad Morris got giddy during his speaking engagement in Springdale on signing day when showing a clip of 6-3, 331-pound defensive tackle Billy Ferrell chasing down a skill position player on the far flank.

"He's got some giddy-up at 6-3, 300 pounds," Morris said while rewinding and re-showing the clip a few times. "He runs like a deer."

Pool reunion

Chad Morris thought he had a shot at landing linebacker Bumper Pool out of Lovejoy High in Lucas, Texas, when he was head coach at SMU. His hopes dwindled when he showed up at Pool's school and saw a vehicle with a huge Razorback window decal on the back glass.

"We were down for a little while, until about Dec. 6th, and then we were excited," Morris said of the day he took the head coaching job at Arkansas.

Good brain

Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper said the Razorbacks' secondary "definitely got faster" with the addition of Ladarrius Bishop, Joseph Foucha and Myles Mason.

"All of them can run," Cooper said. "All of them have great ball skills. They all have really good man coverage ability, which you have to have. With the scheme we play, you're going to have to play some man because we're going to pressure."

Cooper also pointed out the heady play of Mason.

"He's a true safety that can play and tackle and he's smart. I like his brain," Cooper said. "The better safeties I've been involved with can make the checks and calls."

Recruiting numbers

Chad Morris estimated the Razorbacks flew about 18,000 miles and covered 15 states "getting our brand all over this country" during the recruiting periods since he took the job Dec. 6.

Morris had been on the job for 61 days on national signing day, and the complete staff had been in place for 33 days.

Last one in

Linebacker Andrew Parker, who some in recruiting circles felt would do a last-minute flip to Texas, was the last prospect to join the Razorbacks on signing day.

"He made us all sweat," said Coach Chad Morris, before adding that Parker and his mother fell in love with Fayetteville after making the visit from New Orleans. "Huge upside. You'll hear about this guy. He's going to play this game for a long time."

Switching

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Maleek Barkley will join the running backs when the Razorbacks start spring drills March 1. Coach Chad Morris made the announcement on signing day, adding there would be further position changes, though he did not go into details.

Morris said he liked to have at least five running backs on scholarship at all times. The Hogs have six tailbacks on scholarship in junior Devwah Whaley; sophomores Chase Hayden, T.J. Hammonds and Rakeem Boyd, a former Texas A&M signee and transfer from Independence (Kan.) Community College; and redshirt freshmen Maleek Williams and Barkley.

No let down

Coach Chad Morris, speaking Wednesday night in Springdale, told the crowd, "Great times are ahead. I'm not going to let you down."

Morris also riffed off an earlier joke made by Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, who said if the crowd didn't like Morris they needed to see Julie Cromer Peoples about that.

"Julie, I'm not going to let you down, either," said Morris, addressing Cromer Peoples who was in the audience.

Yurachek pointed out Cromer Peoples performed much of the recruitment of Morris, and Yurachek arrived to put Morris' hiring over the goal line.

Quick pickup

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said he was amazed at how quickly quarterback signees Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones picked up concepts he talked to them about during the recruiting process.

"Dude, it's awesome how far along they are with what we do," Craddock said. "The similarities are scary to what they did in high school.

"When I got them both on the board on their official visits and just talked to them about some things we do, they picked it up very quickly. Just because it's stuff they've already done in the past. So very excited to get them up here to pick up on our terminology."

Just 'Chief'

John Chavis kept it simple at the national signing day event at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale during introductions.

When Chavis got the microphone near the end of a long line of coaches and football staff members who were saying their names and titles to the crowd, he said: "Chief, defensive coordinator."

Flat bellies

Offensive line coach Dustin Fry likes lean linemen who can run and have stamina.

"When I say lean, I don't mean like 275," Fry said. "I just like flat bellies if I can get them. If they can be heavy and still be functional, I've got no problem with it. When they start slowing down is when I'll have them start losing a little weight."

Unhappy Harbaugh

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking publicly about former Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos' departure from the Wolverines to Alabama less than one month into his job as receivers coach at Michigan, was clearly not happy.

According to reports from a Harbaugh media opportunity Thursday, his widened eyes, flailing arms and wide-open mouth spoke volumes about the departure of Enos, who played quarterback at Michigan State.

"You know exactly what transpired," Harbaugh said. "He left and went to Alabama."

Enos; former Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert; and former Arkansas players Tenarius "Tank" Wright and Kiero Small, who were assistants on Herbert's staff, all took positions at Michigan this winter.

Extra points

• Defensive lineman Isaiah Nichols, linebacker Bumper Pool and receiver Michael Woods are already enrolled and will go through spring drills with the Razorbacks starting March 1.

• The Razorbacks coaching staff attended the Ronnie Roach coaching clinic, a partnership with the Arkansas Football Coaches Association, in Hot Springs over the weekend.

Sports on 02/11/2018

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