FAYETTEVILLE — Brady Latham is an unknown name to some University of Arkansas fans, but they might want to start studying up on the redshirt freshman offensive guard.
Latham, 6-5, 296, redshirted last season as a true freshman out of Jenks (Okla.) High School. But Sam Pittman has heaped a lot of praise on him and is looking at him at left guard. He was asked if it was the case he was looking for a place to play Latham?
“You’re 100 percent correct,” Pittman said. “We are trying to find a place for him because he’s physical, he’s mean, he’s athletic. He’s not quite the size that you’d like for him to be yet, but he’s a freshman, a redshirt freshman. But he has feet and he has want-to. Those will take you a long way playing offensive line. So you’re 100 percent right. We’re trying to find a place. We believe that he potentially and we do believe that he’s one of our top five players and we’re trying to find a place to insert him into our line.”
It seems that Myron Cunningham at left tackle and either Dalton Wagner or Noah Gatlin on the right side with Beaux Limmer at right guard and Ricky Stromberg at center. That leaves who will be the left guard?
“That one there, you know, that one’s, (Ty) Clary has played there,” Pittman said. “(Shane) Clenin has played there. Latham has played there. Somebody else I’m missing … (Jalen) St. John. You know, that’s one there that we’re settling in on a couple of guys. … Luke Jones has played there as well.
“We’ll see. Hopefully by Wednesday we’ll see. But those guys have kind of been playing there, and other places as well. But right now Latham’s probably ahead of the other fellas, if we were to go today. We’ll make that decision probably after Wednesday’s practice.”
Pittman, who is set to begin his first season at Arkansas as head coach, was asked how much Latham has improved since last season?
“No, I don’t,” Pittman said. “But I do know that he’s much bigger than he was last year, and I think he’s always been a gritty fighter. You know, a guy that’s an aggressive guy. But I’m impressed with his leverage, I’m impressed with his feet, and I think he probably was the same way in high school, a very aggressive guy.
“I don’t know why he didn’t play much last year, or any, I don’t know, but I think probably because his size is why he didn’t get to play last year. And he was young, but he’s smart. He can play. That one, we haven’t tried at center, but he could probably do that as well. He’s just a very good athlete. A little bit like Ricky Stromberg. Ricky can play several positions, and because they’re smart.”
One offensive lineman who was in the mix to play at tackle is true freshman Marcus Henderson. He’s working at tight end right now to see if he can help at that spot.
“Yeah, he caught a couple of balls tonight,” Pittman said. “You know we’re trying to get some depth there. Wherever he ends up on the depth chart, the bottom line is he was doing really well at tackle. I sat down with coach (Jon) Cooper and Coach (Brad) Davis and said ‘Hey look now, we have tackles, several, three to four tackles in there, let’s move him over to tight end and see if we can have a physical blocker in there, more physical blockers in there. And he can catch the ball. He actually did that some in high school. So we moved him over there.
“We have to get him ready. He obviously knows the offense. Very, very easy transition for him as far as the blocking goes. Certainly the routes and things of that nature we’re going to have to do a full-fledged charge on getting him ready mentally on getting ready to run routes. And there’s no doubt in my mind — Andrew Thomas, I know it’s from left tackle to right tackle, but I know we moved Andrew Thomas two weeks before the first game and he was a freshman, moved him from left to right and he started on the national runner-up team. So it can be done. We’re trying to accelerate him as fast as we possibly can.”
Pittman talked about the practice schedule leading up to the Sept. 26 opener against Georgia.
“I think next week is still a work week,” Pittman said. “Beginning of the week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday we will still be working on Arkansas. And we’re going to take off Thursday and then Friday we will start Georgia prep. Basically you’ll have a Friday, Monday type practice and Saturday a Tuesday type practice and then we’ll take Sunday off and then you go Monday which will be a Tuesday type practice. On Tuesday you’ll go to Wednesday. On Wednesday you’ll go to Thursday and on Thursday you’ll stay Thursday. So we’ll start our Georgia prep next Friday. We’re going to practice three times before then and then obviously the mock game on this coming up Saturday. And you’re right it’s time to kind of lock in on positions. And as long as we stay healthy and have the right kids, all our kids have practiced, we will be able to do that. If for some reason we don’t it will still be a bit of a work in progress.”