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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Hogs see senior WR go down
Deon Stewart, Arkansas wide receiver, drills Friday, March 1, 2019, during Arkansas spring practice in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas wide receiver Deon Stewart suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in Saturday's scrimmage that will sideline him for the season.
Chrissy Stewart, the player's mother, confirmed the injury in a Facebook post late Saturday.
Stewart, who redshirted as a freshman in 2015, would be eligible to apply for a sixth year of eligibility.
The lone scholarship senior among the receivers, Stewart ranked fourth on the team with 22 catches for 178 yards in 2018. The 5-11, 161-pounder from Hardy also was expected to reprise his role as the Razorbacks' top punt returner this season. He had 9 returns for 91 yards, including a 45-yarder at Colorado State, and averaged 10.1 yards per return.
Stewart posted a one-word comment on his Twitter account on Saturday evening that read, "Adversity."
The post drew plenty of replies from teammates and position coach Justin Stepp, who referenced Stewart's jersey number when he wrote, "Love you 13! We got your back all day everyday! You're my guy!"
Colton Jackson, a fellow senior, added, "Love you my boy, it's all for you this year."
Stewart is the second Razorback receiver to be lost during camp, as sophomore Koilan Jackson recently underwent arthroscopic work to clean up his previous knee injury. Jackson is expected back in about three weeks.
The Razorbacks scrimmaged with a little pressure, as a large group of ex-Razorbacks and their families were on hand at the practice fields as part of the team's annual barbecue for former players.
The current and former players dined together along with the coaches and staff members after the two-hour scrimmage.
'I don't know what our total number was, but when we called our team up at the end and brought all our former players up and their families, it was a lot of people around," Coach Chad Morris said. 'Man, it's really special to be able to bring those former players back in here and let them feel welcome.
"This is their home. There's been a lot of sweat, and a lot of tears, a lot of laughter and wins. Some losses. More importantly, lessons in life are learned on that football field.
"There's only one Razorback, and when you wear that logo on the side of your helmet, you become very unique. We want our players to understand how important it is to be a former player and to put the sacrifice in."
Center Ty Clary, who wears No. 66, talked with Tony Ugoh, who wore the same number as an All-SEC offensive tackle for the Razorbacks' 2006 SEC West championship team.
"It was actually really cool to meet him," Clary said. "That's a big, tough Hog. It was awesome to meet all those guys."
Safety Joe Foucha said he felt added energy from the former players.
"Especially when the Razorbacks that played here went to applauding and getting hyped," Foucha said. "That kind of turned me up because knowing that they know something special here is coming, the feeling is great."
Added linebacker Bumper Pool: "They were all out there, and it was cool getting to see them come back, especially when we get to play for them because we look up to them."
Morris said he didn't talk to the team long after calling up the former players and their families.
"It had been a long morning," he said. "They were ready to go eat. They were giving me that look. When you look at former players and they give you that look, you know you've got to let them go eat. They were hungry."
Coach Chad Morris said tight end Cheyenne "C.J." O'Grady is making good progress after surgery he underwent Wednesday for a sprained knee.
"I anticipate him being back," Morris said. "So I'm excited about that.
"C.J. was in here in meetings, walking around. He was off his crutches. So that's good to see."
Morris said he expects senior offensive tackle Colton Jackson, who has been out with a foot injury, to return to practice this week.
Greg Brooks, a freshman who has been working as the No. 1 nickel back, didn't practice Saturday as he continues to recover from a thumb injury.
Cornerback Montaric "Buster" Brown had an interception for the second consecutive scrimmage when he picked off a pass by Ben Hicks.
"Buster's had a really good camp," Chad Morris said. "He's had a good winter, and then translated into the summer and then to fall camp.
"He's on our Leadership Committee because he has definitely shown the fact that he can lead. I'm really, really proud of where he is. He's got a great future."
De'Vion Warren initially couldn't recall the play when asked about the touchdown pass he caught from Nick Starkel.
"I forgot," Warren said. "I'm telling you, that sun will do something to you out there.
"It was a little pick play, and they just overlooked and came down and I just slipped through the back. I think it was a busted coverage."
Warren poked a little fun at Starkel when asked who threw his touchdown pass.
"That was Mr. Starkel," he said. "Mr. Stress Man. If you ever see him in his shoulder pads, it looks like he don't have no neck."
Linebacker Bumper Pool gave a concise assessment of what he thought stood out about Saturday's scrimmage.
"It went good," he said. "I thought we had a lot of good things that we worked on. We've been working all week, and finally to piece it all together at the end of the week and go live was good."
True freshman Ricky Stromberg worked with the first-team offensive line at both guard spots Saturday.
Stromberg was a left guard during the first series -- in place of the injured Austin Capps -- then switched to right guard where Shane Clenin has been working as a starter.
"Ricky has had a really good camp," Coach Chad Morris said. "He's very, very athletic. We just wanted to see what he could do in a scrimmage situation. He made some mistakes and got beat a few times, but he did some really good things."
Junior center Ty Clary said he's impressed by Stromberg's effort.
"He's going full force every play," Clary said. "He's going to give it his all."
Clary started the first four games at guard as a true freshman in 2017.
"As a freshman, you get to think about, 'Oh man, I might get to travel as a freshman. That's not something a lot of people get to do. I might get to play as a freshman,' " Clary said. "I think Ricky saw that a little bit today.
"I told him, 'Hey, this can happen for you. Go for it.' And he did. He went for it."
The UA's @RazorbackFB Twitter site put out a video from the scrimmage of freshman receiver Treylon Burks hauling in a deep, over-the shoulder catch that came over his helmet and left shoulder before he cradled it before going out of bounds.
Sophomore safety Joe Foucha won the summer PAT Award, which is given to the player who best exemplifies passion, attitude and trust, thus the acronym.
"Proud of the work he's put in and the difference he's making on and off the field!" Chad Morris wrote on social media to announce Foucha as the winner.
"It's voted on by people outside of our football building, academics ... nutrition center, so what that represents is a young man that delivers the passion for being a Razorback and having a great attitude and someone you can trust," Morris said. "We've had several previous award winners and had them stand up this morning. But Joe won it, and it's amazing."
Coach Chad Morris, other staff members and a selection of Razorback players visited the Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital Friday after the annual football kickoff luncheon.
Sports on 08/18/2019
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