Razorback Spring Football Drills

Wednesday, March 14th 2007, 10:36 am

By: News On 6

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Fullback Peyton Hillis, who was sidelined with a persistent deep thigh injury for much of last season, has been looking strong in initial spring drills, coach Houston Nutt says.

The Razorbacks took the field at 5 a.m. Wednesday for a two-hour practice. The team will do some conditioning Thursday, then go into spring break.

Nutt singled out Hillis and a number of other players for praise after practice.

``It makes all the difference in the world (when Hillis is healthy),'' Nutt said. ``He is really a mismatch. You can move him around. You can tell those last few games last year, we really missed him. He has had an excellent two practices. We just want to keep on the field and keep him healthy. I just got through telling him that this morning. Stay on the field, we need you. Boy, he looks good.''

Nutt said his players showed intensity and are eager to learn.

``Again for the second straight day, I thought our throwing and catching was much, much better. I think (Marcus) Monk looks a lot better. The off-season for him has done wonders. I think he is so much quicker once he catches the football. We have a lot to learn and a ways to go, but I just like where we are right now,'' Nutt said.

The defense has to replace defensive end Jamaal Anderson, cornerback Chris Houston, linebacker Sam Olajubutu and defensive tackle Keith Jackson. Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring has shifted Matt Hewitt back to strong safety after playing linebacker last season. Jerrell Norton has been moved to cornerback.

``We have lost some very important characters in our defense, some very productive players on our defense including our best linebacker, our best pass rusher and our best cover guy,'' Herring said. ``We have some challenges ahead of us and some tremendous holes to fill. We are working with different combinations. Jobs are wide open.''

Herring said he is putting freshmen in pressure situations and seeing how they respond.

The team's next scheduled practice is March 26. The annual Red-White game will be at 6 p.m. on April 14 at Razorback stadium.

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