HOGS: Catalon bros make early impact; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - The Catalons moved along spectacularly Wednesday on both sides of the ball during Arkansas’ practice.
It marked the Razorbacks’ fifth preseason practice and their first in full pads.
True freshman safety Jalen Catalon of Mansfield, Texas, signed by Chad Morris’ Razorbacks despite missing his 2018 high school senior season with an injury, reportedly intercepted a pass Wednesday for a touchdown to go with the pick-six he returned in Monday’s practice while gleefully pursued by celebrating defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Older brother Kendall Catalon is a junior receiver who transferred from Southern University after catching 28 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns while rushing eight times for 69 yards and three TDs last year. Kendall caught a TD pass Wednesday.
“We threw a deep ball to Kendall Catalon, and he scored on it” Arkansas senior receiver Deon Stewart said after practice. “KJ (Jefferson, the freshman quarterback) did.”
Stewart said he tallied a TD catch from transfer quarterback Nick Starkel. Wide receiver D’Vion Warren on a bubble screen and running back T.J. Hammonds also tallied TDs, Stewart said.
DEFENSE STILL DOMINANT
Players said Jalen Catalon and senior linebacker Scoota Harris posted interceptions.
Morris awarded the defense the daily belt for the unit (offense or defense) practiced better overall.
DB’s TO THE FRONT
Sophomore Joe Foucha, closing spring drills and starting preseason as a first-team safety along with junior returning starter Kamren Curl, said first-team cornerbacks Jarques McClellion, a starter last year, and Montaric “Buster” Brown, a third-year sophomore from Ashdown moved in the spring from safety to corner, have come to the front for their part of the defense’s back end.
“Definitely the cornerbacks,” Foucha said. “They’re playing most aggressively.”
Since after spring ball, junior first-team nickel D’Vone “Pluck” McClure was moved to weak side linebacker. Morris and Chavis have been publicly hesitant to declare January-enrolled true freshman Greg Brooks as the starting nickel.
But there’s no “maybe” about Brooks, says Foucha.
“I wouldn’t say maybe because he has been ballin’,” Foucha said. “He has been ballin’ since the day he got here, and he’s doing even better. He is jumping routes. He is definitely going to be a guy who can do something this year.”
AGIM ACKNOWLEDGES CLENIN
It’s customary after practices to hear beleaguered Arkansas offensive linemen casting praise upon McTelvin “Sosa” Agim after trying to block the super senior defensive tackle and Hope High alum.
So it’s noteworthy when Agim praises an offensive lineman as the agile 294-pounder Wednesday praised Shane Clenin, the 6-6, 302 third-year sophomore and possible starter at right guard.
Clenin doesn’t take a Sosa shout-out lightly.
“Obviously he’s a really good player,” Clenin said, noting offensive line coach Dustin Fry’s desire to work his guards against Agim. “Coach Fry always says it’s kind of like iron sharpening iron. He (Agim) gets the better of me sometimes, and I get the better of him sometimes. It’s been good for us to bring the best out of each other.
Agim cited Clenin improving his technique.
“It’s something I’ve had to focus on,” Clenin said. ”Sosa, he’s a big finesse guy. He has really good speed and skill for how big he is. So you really have to step up your technique levels or he’s going to capitalize on that.”
With redshirt freshman backup right tackle Noah Gatlin out for the season since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in a knee last week, guards Clenin, redshirt freshman Ryan Winkel, true freshman Dylan Rathcke and junior college transfer backup left tackle Myron Cunningham have done some right tackle cross-training behind first-teamer Dalton Wagner.
Thursday and Friday practices lead into Saturday’s “big scrimmage,” Morris said after his Tuesday media session.
The quarterback position, open between January enrolled graduate transfer Ben Hicks from SMU, June arrived Texas A&M graduate transfer Nick Starkel, returning redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones, true freshman KJ Jefferson and walk-on letterman holder Jack Lindsey, will be under scrimmage scrutiny.
Hicks was first-team after spring drills, but Morris has August operated with a clean slate regarding the season-opening QB starter Aug. 31 against Portland State.