HOOVER, Ala. — Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer told USA Today earlier this month he would be open to walking on at Arkansas.
It doesn’t sound like the interest is mutual.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema indicated Wednesday at Southeastern Conference Media Days the Razorbacks had no plans to add Dyer to their 105-man roster as a walk-on this season. Bielema could not mention Dyer by name, but left little doubt he was referencing the Arkansas native when asked if any former SEC players would be joining the team when preseason practice begins next month.
“There will not be a transfer running back at Arkansas,” Bielema said.
Dyer — who was the most valuable player of the BCS title game two years ago — is still looking for a landing spot after sitting out the 2012 season.
The former Auburn running back left the Tigers after the 2011 season, enrolled at Arkansas State the following spring, then was dismissed. He has spent much of the past year at Arkansas Baptist, but plans to transfer to another school this fall.
He was recruited by Arkansas out of high school, but decided to play at Auburn.
The Razorbacks don’t have much experience in the backfield entering the 2013 season with Jonathan Williams returning as Arkansas’ most experienced rusher (231 career yards). Arkansas will count on Williams, touted signee Alex Collins and sophomore Nate Holmes (10 yards) in the backfield next season.
Lower the Better
The SEC media preseason predictions will be unveiled this morning and Arkansas will likely find itself near the bottom of the SEC West standings. Bielema said that’s fine with him, confident the Razorbacks will surprise everyone this season.
“The lower the better,” Bielema said. “I think our kids are carrying a tremendous chip on their shoulder. The same group that’s going to vote us a certain place (today) is the same group that a year ago had us in the top five. … But I do excel in situations where people think very, very little of us. For those of you that want to, vote us lower. I mean that will all my heart. Then sit back and watch.”
Arkansas football Keiro Small agreed, saying preseason projections didn’t help the Razorbacks last season. Arkansas was labeled as a darkhorse contender for the national championship, but finished 4-8 under John L. Smith.
“Last year we had every high ranking there was and you see how that turned out,” Small said. “My think is, I’m trying to go opposite of you guys again. Let’s go ahead and make that happen.”
It appears Arkansas is finally ready to move into the Fred W. Smith Football Center.
Bielema said Wednesday the Razorbacks are scheduled to move into the facility — which consists of new locker rooms, meeting rooms, training room and coaches offices — Monday. It comes roughly two weeks before the start of camp.
“We’re actually going to have a team meeting in there Friday where our players are going to see the locker room for the first time and kind of get a feel for exactly what this new facility is all about,” Bielema said. “I’m not saying we’re going to be the top in the country, but we’re definitely in the upper division now both in the locker room, the training room, equipment room, players lounge.
“We have a players lounge with 20 chairs for like a private movie. I feel like slapping our guys. They have it way too good.”
Bielema said he rolled his eyes when the idea of putting the Twitter accounts on the cover of the 2013 Arkansas media guide was first brought to him. But Bielema quickly warmed up to the idea and eventually agreed to go with it.
Bielema’s Twitter account is featured on the page along with Small, defensive end Chris Smith and center Travis Swanson. He said the three leaders — who represented Arkansas at SEC Media Days — deserved the added exposure.
“Right away somebody said, ‘Well, if you go with them they can’t embarrass you,’” Bielema said. “I’m like, ‘I put a lot of really good faith in those three guys in Keiro and obviously Travis and Chris. That was important.
“They probably worry about me more than anybody.”
Bielema, who has been very active on Twitter, wasn’t kidding. The coach committed a minor NCAA violation when he tweeted the name of a prospect last week.
No Sweater Vests
Arkansas players wore matching sweater vests for their gameday attire last season, walking into the stadium in the dress garb before changing into their uniforms.
Bielema revealed Wednesday his players didn’t like the style choice and are happy to hear they won’t have to wear them again.
“I told them I wasn’t going to put them in sweater vests for the first game,” Bielema said. “I have some bonus points there.”
Defensive end Chris Smith was asked about the sweater vests a few minutes later and said he “kind of liked them.” But he said they weren’t well liked by others.
“We kind of went to (Bielema) and said, ‘Coach, are you going to make us wear vests this year?’ He said, ‘No,’” Smith said. “We’ve got something similar to that, but no vests. Probably just regular shirt and tie.
“But I can wear anything. I can wear pink before the game as long as I get to play.”
Not So Familiar Foe
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he doesn’t know former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino very well. But Stoops will get to know Petrino’s offense when the Wildcats open the season against Western Kentucky on Aug. 31.
The opener is the first game for both coaches at their new schools. It will be the first game for Stoops as a head coach after being named former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips’ replacement in the offseason. Petrino is back in college football, too, after sitting out 2012 following his scandalous fall with the Razorbacks.
“I expect a very good team, good offensive mind,” Stoops said. “He’s had some great success. I’m sure they’re going to be very excited to play us. But we are as well. That’s our first game of this new era of our program.”
Kentucky isn’t the only SEC program Petrino’s new will face next season. Western Kentucky plays at Tennessee — led by first-year coach Butch Jones — on Sept. 7.