FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will have something this fall they haven’t had in recent memory with a coach who will concentrate on just special teams.
Sam Pittman hired Scott Fountain from Georgia to coach the special teams at Arkansas. In recent years, the special teams at Arkansas have had a coach who wasn’t in the 10-on field coaches as well as divided up on the staff though they had other positions as well. Fountain talked about just coaching special teams.
“I think it’s real important,” Fountain said. “When I was at Auburn several year’s back I did special teams and tight ends and H-backs. When I went to Georgia I started doing just special teams. It definitely gives you more time to focus on that.
“I’ve been a part of staffs where it was split up among two guys or four guys. I just don’t think it gives attention to detail you would like to happen. I think it’s a big deal.”
It seems like when it’s divided up among the staff it’s almost in their spare time they coach special teams. Is that correct?
“Right, right if you are doing both,” Fountain said. “I try to tell the specialists when I recruit them when we have a special team’s meeting with everybody in there then I’m gonna go coach them to get better like you would a linebacker, tight end or anything else.”
Fountain has AJ Reed coming in from Duke as a grad transfer. He also has added a couple of freshmen as preferred walk ons. Reed is expected to replace Connor Limpert though the freshmen will compete for the job as well as kickoff specialist. Arkansas also has some returning walk-on kickers.
“I have had an opportunity to talk to Connor on the telephone which was really insightful for me,” Fountain said. “Just to get his thoughts on what we had coming back. I won’t really be able to evaluate our players until we get into spring football.”
Fountain talked about his philosophy on splitting up the kicking duties as opposed to one person handling both placements and kickoff duties.
“Absolutely,” Fountain said. “Last year at Georgia we had a long snapper who snapped for punts, but had a different snapper for field goals. We wanted a bigger guy there. I have had years where I have used a guy for all three. I have had a kicker, a field goal guy and a punter. So we’re just gonna try to put the pieces together and see who does best and put the puzzle together through that. I’m not hard set on having one guy do two things and all that, just what they do best.”
Fountain also addressed Treylon Burks returning punts and if he feared an injury there.
“No, not at all,” Fountain said. “I have always been a part of staffs where the head coach promoted special teams. I think it’s important. We are gonna want our starters here to play on two special team’s units. Some guys Mecole Hardman when he was I at Georgia he was punt returner, kick returner and started on our punt team as well as starting at receiver.
“It’s really about what load can a guy handle. If he is a major player for you on offense, defense then you still want to use him on teams you might just use him on one or two units instead of three or four units.”
Burks amazed everyone last season catching punts like an outfielder in baseball. Fountain talked about that as well and was asked if he ever seen anyone do that?
“Somebody said he catches it with his hands up,” Fountain said smiling. “We’re gonna try to fix that if we can. I have never had anybody do that.”
Among the specialists in addition to the newcomers are Sam Loy and Reid Bauer at punter. Jordan Silver and John Oehrlein at long snapper. Matthew Phillips is also back and he can punt and kick.
The newcomers in addition to Reed are kickers Rhett Thurman (who can also punt) and Vito Calvaruso, who may be looked at for kickoff duties. The Hogs also have Eli Chism coming in as a long snapper. Thurman is in school now, but he, Calvaruso and Chism are all preferred walk-on additions.
(Editor’s Note: This is Part 9 of a 10-part series on Arkansas’ assistant coaches.)
Click here for Part 1 (Jon Cooper, TE)
Click here for Part 2 (Sam Carter, CB)
Click here for Part 3 (Jimmy Smith, RB)
Click here for Part 4 (Rion Rhoades, LB)
Click here for Part 5 (Kendal Briles, QB-OC)
Click here for Part 6 (Brad Davis, OL)
Click here for Part 7 (Barry Odom, DC)
Click here for Part 8 (Justin Stepp, WR)