HOGS: Pulaski Academy's Jones versatile on OL
FAYETTEVILLE: Fifth-year senior Luke Jones of Pulaski Academy spent the first two days of Arkansas' spring practice as the first-team left tackle after serving as a backup lineman the past two seasons.
Jones (6-5, 327) says he’s ready for anything.
“I’m prepared.” says Jones, who played in 23 games in 2020 and 2021 at guard while also practicing at center. “I’m prepared to play all five positions. We have a couple other guys on the O-line that are working for those positions, too, that everyone’s moving around, getting work at different positions. We’ve got a good O-line, good depth.’
Jones’ versatility and the Hogs’ depth might be put to test after starting center Ricky Stromberg suffered an apparent knee injury during Tuesday’s second of 15 practices.
Jones, a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, played in 10 games in 2020 after transferring to Arkansas from Notre Dame and saw action in 13 games last season.
For now, Jones fills the spot of 2021 starting left tackle Myron Cunningham, who completed his redshirt senior season last fall.
“ I’m comfortable at left tackle,” Jones says. “I was really close to Myron, and before he left he taught me a lot of what he knows how to play that position so I’m very comfortable.”
Third-year sophomore Marcus Henderson (6-5, 287) of Memphis moves from second- to first-team center after Stromberg’s injury.
“Marcus is very athletic,” Jones says. “So it’s easy for him to adapt to different spots. I believe he could play guard, tackle or center and be one of those guys for us to go at each position. He’s a hard worker, great athlete.”
JEFFERSON TO HASELWOOD
Heralded Oklahoma transfer Jadon Haselwood caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback KJ Jefferson Tuesday, and it was no surprise to junior safety Jalen Catalon.
“He’s a very smooth receiver,” Catalon says of Haselwood, who caught 62 passes for 736 yards in three seasons at OU. “You always have to make sure you have your technique right. Because if not he can expose you.”
Haselwood, widely considered the top high school wide receiver in 2019, looks to fill the role as a difference-maker after the departure of All-American wide receiver Treylon Burks to the NFL.
Ketron Jackson, a 2021 freshman receiver staying within the 4-game maximum to keep his freshman status in 2022, has also impressed.
“ Every day they take the field his confidence level is going through the roof.,” Jefferson says. “We just have to continue to hold him accountable and watch him flourish.”
Linebacker Bumper Poole, back for a fifth season because of eligibility options brought on by COVID-19, practiced for the first time in his Arkansas career without former teammates Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry at his side.
“First off it’s weird just not having your closest friends at practice,” says Poole, who has recorded 349, including 23 TFL, in 44 games. “But now that I’m an older guy it’s fun because I get to step into a leadership role. I’m doing my best to work on that and continue to lead these young guys.”
One linebacker Poole doesn’t have to mentor is former Alabama linebacker Drew Sanders, a two-year letterman for the Crimson Tide.
Sanders (6-5, 232), an outside linebacker at Alabama (33 tackles in 2020-2021), has moved inside at Arkansas.
“He’s extremely talented,” Poole says. "He’s got a lot of intangibles and I think that he wants to be good and he works really hard. Whenever you put all those things together, you’re going to have a guy that’s going to be successful.”
2020 first-team All-SEC safety Jalen Catalon says he feels good after a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery ended his 2021 season after six games.
“ Me moving around, me raising up, doing everything that involves my shoulder feels great,” says Catalon, who intercepted two passes in 2021 after earning All-SEC honors in 2020. “I’m getting after it just like last year and the year before.”
Backup quarterback Malik Hornsby, a redshirt sophomore from Missouri City, Texas, missed Tuesday’s practice because of flu.
That created more reps for redshirt freshman Lucas Coley (6-2, 217) and Cade Fortin, a 6-3 walk-on transfer who was a scholarship quarterback at South Florida.
The Razorbacks practice again Wednesday before taking 11 days off, including spring break.