Hogs Spring Football Will Answer Questions

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What will Knile Davis do this spring? That’s number one on my list of things to look for as Razorback Spring Football 2012 starts this week.

Rumors were flying toward the end of the 2011 season that Davis would return for the LSU game and later the Cotton Bowl. Bobby Petrino nixed any talk of that on more than one occasion.

The Cotton Bowl was over 10 weeks ago. Is Davis ready to go? Would it serve any purpose to put him through spring football and risk an injury?

I suppose it’s up to the doctors with regard to the status of the ankle Davis broke back in August. But there is a bigger issue even if Davis is fully healed. As injury prone as he has been would it be worth risking yet another injury when in 2010 Davis already proved himself to be one of the top running backs in the country?

Let the debate begin.

Football is a contact sport and after sitting out the 2011 season Davis needs contact, some will say. He went through the spring of 2011 without incident only to break his ankle in a pre-season scrimmage. That injury could have come at any point, in a game or in a workout.

Debate or not Bobby Petrino will make that decision and we will soon know what’s in store for Davis this spring.

Another hot topic is the upcoming battle at backup quarterback between junior Brandon Mitchell and redshirt freshman Brandon Allen.

Some Razorback fans already have Mitchell beaten out by the former Fayetteville High quarterback who drew rave reviews from Petrino for his play in several pre-bowl scrimmages involving Razorback newcomers.

Not so fast, I say. Mitchell has the same thing going for him that Tyler Wilson had a season ago.

Experience.

Most coaches would love to have a 4th year junior on hand when it’s time to break in a new starter at quarterback. Time in the system matters as we saw with Wilson who went from backup to All-SEC quarterback in one season.

Watching Mitchell and Allen actually compete for the job will be a huge step up from listening to fans debate the subject. Action beats talk by a country mile.

As Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs prepare for the NFL draft there is a big production vacuum Petrino will have to deal with at wide receiver. Senior Cobi Hamilton will likely inherit the title of “go to” receiver and tight end Chris Gragg should step into the role that D.J. Williams filled in Petrino’s passing game before departing for Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Incoming freshmen ball catchers are headed up by the last member of the 2012 signing class. Mekale McKay has been called by some a poor man’s Dorial Green-Beckham, the top national recruit who spurned Arkansas for Missouri on national signing day. Like Green-Beckham McKay stands 6′-6″ and runs a 4.4 40. He will also play basketball for Arkansas so his ball catching skills are not in question.

Other freshmen include highly regarded Keon Hatcher out of Owasso, Oklahoma, D’Arthur Cowen from Olive Branch, Mississippi (one of the top passing teams in the country) and Longview High’s Eric Hawkins who some say will be the fastest player on the field the first time he puts on a Razorback uniform.

Sadly it will be this fall before we see these promising newcomers.

On the defensive side of the ball there are several holes to fill but after the performance Arkansas defenders put on in the Cotton Bowl under new coordinator Paul Haynes there is huge buzz on that side of the ball as we enter the spring campaign.

So get ready. The Hogs hit the field this Wednesday with the Red-White Game set for April 21. Over the next five weeks they will answer a lot of our questions.

However, we all know that Petrino likes to spread the ball around and just what players will step up after Hamilton and Gragg is a huge question.

Juniors Julian Horton, Javontee Herndon and Maudrecus Humphrey are all candidates along with sophomore Marquel Wade. But those four combined had approximately a third of the catches and yardage that Hamilton and Gragg amassed in 2011. Throw in the production of Wright, Adams and Childs and it’s a little scary trying to figure out where the receiving numbers are going to come from this fall.

Maybe the vacuum will be filled by receivers we have not yet seen on the playing field for Arkansas. Redshirt freshman Quinta Funderburke was the big name in last year’s recruiting class. Will he be a part of the answer or will the class of 2012 step up right out of the chute?

The number of exciting new receivers entering the program this fall is staggering.

Demetrius Wilson heads the list. The junior out of Glendale (Arizona) junior college is 6′-3″ and fast. Will he be the next Greg Childs?