By Otis Kirk
Senior linebacker De’Jon Harris could have been at the NFL Combine this past week, but instead was in Fayetteville set to try and improve on a disappointing 2018 season for the Hogs.
Harris and the Razorbacks opened spring drills on Friday and then held a closed practice on Saturday. Harris talked about how the team looks early on.
“I think we looked pretty good,” Harris said. “It was a pretty basic day teaching the fundamentals of the defense and getting the young guys reps and the basics of it.”
Not just at linebacker, but on both sides of the ball the Hogs have a bunch of new players or ones who haven’t played much.
“Yeah with all the new faces it feels a little different,” Harris said. “More younger guys, guys with not that much experience. But it was a pretty fun day. They didn’t have that many mistakes like I thought they would have.”
Harris has been lined up alongside Dre Greenlaw much of the past two seasons. Greenlaw was one of four former Hogs at the NFL Combine so Harris will have a new linebacker alongside him this year. How much different was it without Greenlaw?
“It’s different,” Harris said. “I played lot with Bumper (Pool) last year so it’s not that much different. Now once Bumper comes out and somebody else comes in I actually feel a difference.”
Pool played in 10 games last year as a true freshman starting four when Greenlaw was injured. One advantage of so many new players though is the energy should be high in the spring with each of them trying to prove what they can do.
“Yeah, most of the young guys are energetic self starters,” Harris said. “They come out with a good vibe and get it going and I like that.”
In addition to Pool, another linebacker from Chad Morris’ first recruiting class was Andrew Parker who is also from Louisiana. Harris talked about Parker who was highly recruited.
“It’s a chance for him,” Harris said. “Right now he’s third string at Mike and got some 2-reps today. Kind of cross training Gio (Giovanni La France) at Mike and Will since it’s just Bumper right now. Gio and Grant are on that side. He can move really well. We are just trying to get him to slow so he knows the defense but other than that, he’s got it all.”
Following the 2018 season, Harris and John Chavis, the defensive coordinator, met and discussed a plan for this spring.
“It feels good,” Harris said. “We had a talk after the Missouri game and went out to eat. He told me how the spring would go for me. Less contact and more work on the things I need like pass coverage and stuff like that.”
Is the team just erasing the 2-10 season in 2018 or how you handling that?
“Yeah it’s a new year,” Harris said. “Just getting restarted for the whole program from earning our gear back and setting foundation for the program for the future. We’ve earned everything back from the shorts and sweatshirt.”
Harris talked about what he saw from the offense on Friday.
“More speed,” Harris said. “They tried to up the tempo on the first day. I didn’t see that many mistakes from that side of the ball either. So that’s a positive on both sides. They looked pretty good today.”
Arkansas will return to the practice field on Tuesday for its third spring drill.