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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk RAZORBACK SHUFFLE: Arkansas offensive lineman and tight end Austin Cantrell, front, run through drills Wednesday during the Razorbacks' practice on campus in Fayetteville.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk UP TEMPO: Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley runs through drills Wednesday during the Razorbacks' practice on campus in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Chad Morris' Razorbacks zipped through Wednesday's first preseason practice in full pads so energetically, the team could not sit still for halftime.

"We went into halftime still pumped up," Arkansas third-year sophomore backup middle linebacker Grant Morgan, of Greenwood, said. "Coach Morris cut out halftime because we all still had energy. So he said, 'Enough of halftime. Let's keep going.' We all had a lot of energy out there today."

While the Hogs won't have an entirely full day of hitting until Saturday's closed scrimmage, they apparently hit plenty during Wednesday's practice, closed to media for all but the first 20 minutes when then they are just getting warmed up.

"Yeah, we tackled full," Morgan said. "We did a couple of periods of that. Offense made a lot of good plays. The defense has got to step up. They moved the ball on us a little bit. We've got to figure that out. I messed up on that. I've got to get figured out."

Morgan said the offensive line held its own, despite being plagued by injuries.

"I know (junior running back) T.J. Hammonds made a couple good plays," Morgan said. "The offensive line was really doing well with the little bit that they have. Our D-line really stood their ground."

The defense did a good job as well, Morgan noted.

"We had a lot of good defensive plays," Morgan said. "Jamario Bell (the junior backup defensive end from Junction City) punched out a ball during inside drill. He punched it out and returned it."

Apparently Bell, 6-5, 247, picks up during these August closed practices with this statistically stellar peformances from spring practice and the spring game.

"You see him go play basketball, and you say that guy is an athlete," Morgan said. "I'm really anxious to see what he can do off the edge because he's really lengthy and he can get to the quarterback quick. I think a lot of people are going to be happy to see him out there."

Morgan said Bell wasn't alone in wresting the ball from the offense.

"We've been forcing turnovers," Morgan said. "We think had like eight yesterday, and today I think we had four or five."

Sophomore strong safety Kamren Curl picked one of them.

"I saw Kam Curl pick one off and drag one foot on the sideline," Morgan said of an interception. "It was really good. And Sosa (junior defensive lineman and Hope High School alum McTelvin Agim) made like three or four sacks in a row. He's unstoppable. He's an un-blockable guy."

Speaking from an offensive perspective, tight end Cheyenne O'Grady of Fayetteville noted a catch by junior Arkansans receiver La'Michael Pettway of Nashville.

"We had like our special situations drill going there, and I saw LaMichael caught a fade ball," O'Grady said. "I was just really trying to pay attention to the play calls because I'm just trying to master the offense."

Arkansas senior right offensive guard Johnny Gibson, of Dumas, was asked after Wednesday's practice about a line that has lost starting left tackle Colton Jackson until at least midseason and reserve lineman Deion Malone for the season and currently has starting center Dylan Hays and reserve guard Jalen Merrick not practicing.

The nine scholarship offensive linemen practicing Wednesday included true freshman guard Silas Robinson and true freshman tackle Noah Gatlin on the second team. Gatlin is behind first-team left tackle Dalton Wagner, promoted with Jackson idled. Redshirt freshman tackle Shane Clenin has converted to playing first-team center when not swapping positions with senior first-team left guard Hjalte Froholdt.

"The intensity was high," Gibson said. "It was very physical."

Gibson says Froholdt has adjusted well to the shotgun snaps in Morris' Spread offense, and going on his third year starting at guard certainly has the experience to play center, even if he hasn't played it in a game.

The boyhood nickname of Arkansas nickel back and Jacksonville High alum D'Vone McClure has just aged considerably.

McClure, a Razorbacks football sophomore at 24 because he played four years of minor league ball signed out of high school by the Cleveland Indians, said he's long been called "Pluck" because of his boyhood fondness for the Looney Tunes character Plucky the Duck.

"It's Grandaddy Pluck now," McClure said Wednesday. "That came from Santos."

Fifth-year senior safety Santos Ramirez is Arkansas' secondary elder in point of Razorbacks' service, but McClure is the elder by age.

"I think I've got two years on him, but he's about to get out of here," McClure said.

Sports on 08/09/2018

Print Headline: Hogs hold high-energy practice

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