Bob Holt is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he sits on the board of directors for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Razorback report: McGlothern makes big play early in practice
Arkansas defensive back Dwight McGlothern (2) releases from a receiver Thursday, March 30, 2023, during practice at the university practice facility in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas cornerback Dwight McGlothern made the highlight play of fastball start for the Razorbacks with an interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the sequence on the grass practice fields outside Walker Pavilion on Tuesday.
McGlothern undercut a flag route intended for Isaac TeSlaa to pick off KJ Jefferson and had clear sailing in front of him when the play was blown dead. The 6-2 senior from Houston is off to a fast start again this season with an interception in Saturday’s 56-13 season-opening win over Western Carolina.
McGlothern, who was second in the SEC last season with four interceptions, brought his first interception of the year back 16 yards to set up Jefferson’s 17-yard touchdown run for a 28-3 lead in the second quarter.
On Tuesday, Jefferson went 1 for 2 with the first unit, completing a flare pass to Luke Hasz over the left edge and gaining solid yardage on a quarterback draw on the first snap of the four-play sequence. Rashod Dubinion, practicing with apparent full clearance after sitting out the last part of the opener, had a run off right tackle on the second snap.
Jacolby Criswell went 2 for 3 with the second unit, completing passes to Isaiah Sategna and Davion Dozier. He also threw incomplete off Sategna’s outstretched hands on a deep crossing route over the right side. Dominique Johnson had a run off right tackle as the other snap in the fastball starts.
Ace tailback Raheim Sanders worked on the exercise bike and did rehab work on the sideline with a few other players again Tuesday with his left leg in a sleeve.
Freshman defensive back Dallas Young also worked on the side with offensive linemen Terry Wells and Luke Brown, and freshman defensive lineman Quincy Rhodes, who was down on the turf for a while in the fourth quarter of the opener, walked the perimeter of the practice fields.
Senior guard Brady Latham returned to work in his white No. 62 jersey, likely indicating he has been cleared to play Saturday against Kent State after missing the opener with what Coach Sam Pittman seemed to indicate was concussion protocols. Starting cornerback Jaheim Singletary was back in his red No. 15 jersey after working on the side Monday.
Honoring UA greats
Arkansas will pay tribute to two former players who died recently, running back Alex Collins and quarterback Ryan Mallett, by having their initials painted at the 3- and 15-yard lines on the home sideline for games at Reynolds Razorback Stadium this season, UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek announced Tuesday in a social media post.
Collins wore No. 3 and Mallett No. 15.
Yurachek also announced Tuesday that family members of former Arkansas defensive lineman Chris Smith, who died in April, will serve as honorary captains for the Razorbacks’ home game against Auburn on Nov. 11.
Pick-6 for Spence
Freshman linebacker Brad Spence returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown to cap Arkansas’ scoring against Western Carolina on Saturday.
“It was a pretty fun experience seeing the crowd roar after I got my first pick in a collegiate game, so it was a moment to remember,” Spence said. “Moment to cherish.
“It’s not common for a freshman to get his first pick in his first game.”
Spence dropped into coverage over the middle and intercepted a pass by Charlie Dean.
“Sort of like the right place, right time thing,” Spence said. “I ended up seeing the ball and I had ball instincts. … Went to go get it and it was like a shock when I caught it.
“I only saw green, so I just ran to the touchdown. It was great.”
Spence never was touched on his way to the end zone.
“I saw an O-linemen when I caught it, so I was like, ‘I think I’ve got him beat,’ ” Spence said. “I was like. ‘Yeah I think I got this all the way.’ ”
Spence said he scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery at Houston Klein Forest High School, but Saturday was his first score on an interception.
Isaac TeSlaa’s first touchdown as a Razorback on Saturday was a product of a quick change following Hudson Clark’s interception late in the first quarter.
Clark’s pick of Western Carolina quarterback Charlie Dean on his second attempt of the game was the senior’s fifth as a Razorback. It set the Hogs up at the Catamounts’ 31 with 3:10 left in the opening quarter.
Moments later, TeSlaa was celebrating in the end zone with his teammates after a back flip to commemorate his score.
“On that touchdown play, you know, Hud set me up with the interception,” TeSlaa said. “We had short field position and had a play call that I knew I’d be able to score on if we executed it well.”
Quarterback KJ Jefferson delivered a pass to the 6-4, 216-pound TeSlaa on a post concept.
TeSlaa, who had three receptions for 66 yards, has shown skillful pass catching in camp, high-pointing balls and making acrobatic catches.
It’s not bad for a guy who played quarterback in high school and did not convert to receiver until after signing with Hillsdale (Mich.) College.
“I’ve been good at it for as long as I’ve been playing receiver,” TeSlaa said. “Once I did move to receiver, man, I would just do drills every day with my dad [Mark]. We would go to the gym and just do ball drills for half an hour a day.
“I feel like, honestly, that’s what helped me the most is just getting reps at seeing the ball go into my hands and going up and getting the ball.”
The Razorbacks are three slots out of the first Associated Press top 25 of the regular season after opening with a 56-13 win over Western Carolina.
Arkansas accrued 28 points from the ballots of 63 panelists from across the country, which was 113 points behind No. 25 Clemson, and trailing only Iowa (73) and UCLA (55) among other teams receiving votes.
Other SEC teams receiving votes: Kentucky (15), Mississippi State (5) and Auburn (3).
Arkansas is paying Kent State a guarantee of $1.6 million for Saturday’s game, according to the Record-Courier newspaper in Kent, Ohio.
Central Florida, which beat Kent State 56-6 in the season-opener at Orlando, Fla., paid a guarantee of $900,000, the Record-Courier reported.
Kenni & Bret
Kent State Coach Kenni Burns said he’s never been to Arkansas, but he’s gotten a scouting report on what it’s like to play at Reynolds Razorback Stadium from coaches.
“I’ve talked to a lot of coaches … that have given me great insight on the kind of the things that come with playing down there,” Burns said. “I’m looking forward to it. I know it’s one of the better venues in college sports.”
Burns said he’s talked to Bret Bielema, the Hogs’ coach for five seasons (2013-17) who is now in his third year at Illinois.
Burns, who played running back at Indiana and most recently was an assistant coach at Minnesota, said Bielema was a Wisconsin assistant who recruited him out of Sacred Heart Griffin High School in Springfield, Ill.
“He’s just always treated me well,” Burns said. “And when I’d gotten into coaching, I was at Minnesota and an opportunity opened up at Illinois to go there and we talked a little bit about that opportunity, but it didn’t work itself out.
“But he’s just always been a good person and a good man, and I love the style of play that he has. He’s done a great job at Illinois.”
Burns said he knows about the Hog Call, but that he didn’t talk with Bielema about it.
“I have seen video,” Burns said. “I’m a very meticulous guy, so I did look up a lot of things that go with Arkansas, and I did see the Hog Call, so I’m ready for that as well.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.