The way Brady Latham has practiced lately compels finding him a spot to play on Arkansas’ offensive line,
new Razorbacks head coach and former 2013-2015 Razorbacks offensive line coach Sam Pittman said after Thursday night’s practice.
With left guard the by far the line’s most open spot, Pittman and offensive line coach Brad Davis presently have the redshirt freshman from Jenks, Oklahoma, at first-team left guard going into Saturday’s mock game.
Saturday’s 66-play completely closed to media mock game will mark the 15th of the 25 practices allowed before the Razorbacks open their revised entirely SEC 10-game schedule Sept. 26 hosting the nationally No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Senior Ty Clary, fourth-year junior Shane Clenin, Luke Jones, the transfer via Notre Dame, and true freshman Jalen St. John variously have practiced at left guard.
They practice behind him now with Latham first-team wedged between sophomore center Ricky Stromberg, a starting guard last year, and senior left tackle Myron Cunningham.
“Right now, Latham’s probably ahead of the other fellas, if we were to go today,” Pittman said. “We’ll make that decision probably after Wednesday’s practice.”
If not starting there, expect Latham somewhere on the offensive line first game week 2-deep.
“We are trying to find a place for him because he’s physical,” Pittman said. “He’s mean, he’s athletic. He’s not quite the size that you’d like for him to be yet, but he’s a freshman, a redshirt freshman. But he has (quick) feet and he has want-to. Those will take you a long way playing offensive line. We do believe that he’s one of our top five players and we’re trying to find a place to insert him into our line.”
The Chad Morris regime preserved Latham’s 2020 freshman eligibility by playing him in just three games, one under the 2019 maximum to redshirt.
At 6-5, Latham has added 12 pounds to 296 vs. what he was listed last season.
Starting the preseason behind three veteran linebackers plus a graduate transfer from the Oklahoma Sooners, Andrew Parker and Deon Edwards have taken respective first-team leads at middle linebacker and weakside linebacker.
Edwards, 6-1, 218, is a senior three-year letterman but did so mainly on special teams.
Parker, 6-2, 235, is a third-year sophomore lettering by playing seven games last year mostly on special teams.
“Parker and Edwards have really made a ton of strides in the last 12, 13 practices,” Pittman said. “I’m really proud of them. They’re physical kids. So those guys kind of stood out a little bit tonight.”
Parker and Edwards are seeing first-team time because they see the game better the more they play it, Pittman said.
“They hadn’t played much ball but they’re seeing that so much better now,” Pittman said. “They’re seeing the pulling guard.
They’re seeing the tight end go backside. I mean, they’re coming downhill. Edwards has got more speed than Parker, but Parker’s got more size and is a little bit more of a big, physical guy. They want to be really good, and that’s a big part of anybody becoming a good player.”
Pittman said senior linebacker Hayden Henry also practiced well Thursday night.
Pittman said he worked the Razorbacks under the Thursday night lights at Reynolds Razorback Stadium because after the 3 p.m. SEC Network televised Sept. 26 opener against Georgia, the Razorbacks play at least three of their next five games at night with 6:30 p.m. kickoffs Oct. 3 at Mississippi State, Oct. 31 at Texas A&M and Nov. 7 hosting Tennessee.
Kickoff times are not yet set for Arkansas’ Oct. 10 game at Auburn or Oct. 17 game against Ole Miss in Fayetteville.
Tyson Morris, the senior receiver and Helena native moved his high school years to Fayetteville, has returned from missing time with a broken bone in his hand and “has made some outstanding catches,” Pittman said on his Wednesday night radio show.
Like true freshman defensive end Blayne Toll moved to tight end before him, true freshman offensive tackle Marcus Henderson continues working at tight end, apparently Arkansas’ most unsettled offensive position.
“You know we’re trying to get some depth there,” Pittman said, noting Henderson “was doing really well at tackle” and he discussed the move with offensive line coach Brad Davis and tight ends coach Jon Cooper. “I sat down with Coach Cooper and Coach Davis and said ‘Hey look now, we have tackles, several, three to four tackles in there, let’s move him over to tight end and see if we can have a physical blocker in there, more physical blockers in there. And he can catch the ball. He caught a couple tonight. We have to get him ready.”