Weevils start spring drills

MONTICELLO — It was a completely different start to spring practice for Arkansas-Monticello football coach Hud Jackson compared to last year.

Jackson was in his first year as the head coach and had to implement his system. This year, the foundation has already been laid, so the first day of spring practice on Tuesday was a bit more fluid for the team.

“The tempo was good and the guys were flying around,” Jackson said. “Our mindset last year was a little bit more concern if we were going to have guys back when we were through with spring. I think our mindset now is that our guys have bought into what we are doing.”

Even though Jackson was ready for the spring season to start, he almost moved practice back a day after the Monticello area received a good amount of rain over the weekend.

“The sloppiness of the field was a big concern and I almost pushed it back and started (today), but I am glad we got out here (Tuesday),” he said. “It was important. We are going to go today and hopefully the field will be better.”

The Weevils will practice without pads today and will put them on for Thursday’s practice before the team gets spring break off. Practice resumes on March 28 and the spring game is at 7 p.m. at April 13.

The Weevils will need every practice they have this spring practice with the amount of competition for positions. Some of the main competitions are at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

Sophomore Hunter Leppert returns after only playing in three games due to a knee injury. He completed 60 percent of his passes and threw five touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with an averaged of 257 passing yards a game.

Leppert will battle with Jacob Lennox and Tyler Goplin, who both transferred to UAM. Lennox joins the team after he switched from professional baseball to football. Goplin came from Kilgore Junior College in Texas.

“If (Tuesday’s) any indication of how things are things are going to be … it’s going to be tough to come out of spring and feel like we are going to have an answer,” Jackson said of the quarterback battle. “All three of them completed about 75 percent of their passes, threw the ball well and made good reads.”

Two players who did not get a carry last year will compete for the starting running back spot — Blake Prince and Josey Hoevall. At wide receiver, Jamal Nixon is the top returner after catching 30 passes for 456 yards and two touchdowns.

While the defense is young, Jackson said a lot of players saw time as true freshmen last year, which makes him excited to watch the defense as spring practice continues.

“I am curious to see how those guys end up playing by the time the spring is over,” he said. “We have some athletic guys on that since of the ball, and once we get into pads, it will be good to see them rally up and play together.”