Southeastern Conference Media Days is the unofficial start to the football season for college football fans in the South. And if all of the hype in Hoover surrounding Arkansas and Bret Bielema in his third year didn't get Razorbacks fans excited enough, perhaps Arkansas' own media day did.
Bielema spoke to a room full of reporters and TV stations, even one from Denmark who had been in Fayetteville following around Hjalte Froholdt the last few days, as kickoffs draws closer and closer with each passing day. Players and assistant coaches spoke later. Here's a tweet cap:
Bret Bielema is at the podium: 65 of 102 players in summer school had over a 3.0 GPA. 17 guys had all A’s.— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
Always good to have the players do well in the classroom. But as our guy – and hot taker – Ryan Higgins said, "C's get degrees, too."
Bielema: "This is probably the hardest 105 man roster I’ve ever had to make." Also announced Kevin Richardson is now on scholarship.— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
Bielema saying this isn't real surprising. He continues to say this is one of his deepest teams, especially at defensive line. There are talented players at a number of positions. I'm sure BERT would rather have this issue each year than not. I also spoke with Kevin Richardson about being put on scholarship: "It's extremely humbling, and it feels great to have this feeling [of not being on scholarship] off my shoulders." He also said it's great to take some of the burden off his parents. Two other family members are in school in Fayetteville.
Bielema on the OL: Through the first few days, Frank Ragnow has been the most consistent. Tretola is "off the charts."— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
Ragnow impressed on the offensive line last season as a freshman, and Bielema expects him to be a very special player. Sebastian Tretola, as you may already know, is more than 50 pounds lighter than he was when he entered camp last fall. That transformation should help him have more of an impact up front and be fresh for his Piesman moment.
Bielema: Dre Greenlaw is up to 229 pounds now. Jamario Bell has looked good since moving from DE to LB.— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
Greenlaw and Jamario Bell are two of the more impressive freshmen in this class. Derrick Graham, who not many people are talking about right now, looks like a grown man already. The class of 2015 has some freaks, that's for sure.
Bielema: Hjalte Froholdt has become an intimidating presence. We’ve got him at nose guard, but he could play a lot of different positions.— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
Bielema has been high on Froholdt for a long time, and it's easy to see why when you stand next to him. BERT also thinks Hjalte could wreck havoc on the offensive line, too. I'm expecting him to have a pretty big first season.
Bielema said it makes his heart smile getting to play Auburn out of a bye week. Says the bye weeks couldn’t come at a better time.— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
This was probably Bielema's zinger during his time at the podium other than joking about staying away from the word "process" because "another coach in our league likes to use that phrase." Auburn and Arkansas will be a big game for both sides, and it's pretty clear how Bielema feels about Gus and his bunch.
Bielema: "By no means have we arrived. We won seven games last year, it’s not that big a deal."— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) August 9, 2015
Expectations are super high for Arkansas this season. BERT's keeping it real here.
Other notable tweets:
Bielema: Dominique Reed is a freakish kid. In the standing broad jump … he did an 11-11, which is three inches short of the Combine record.— Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) August 9, 2015
Bielema: For Brandon Allen to take the next step, he needs to be big in big moments.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) August 9, 2015
Bielema: I won’t be satisfied until we win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) August 9, 2015
– Bielema said he's known Alex Collins since he was 14 years old. He recruited Collins at Wisconsin, and obviously Arkansas. Bielema says Collin's high school coach told him Collins cried when he left Wisconsin because he didn't know if he was still going to have an offer to play for Bielema.
– Collins says his mom accepted him being at Arkansas "a long time ago. She's fully on board and she loves it here."
– Dominique Reed said Keon Hatcher has been helping him "when he's not really feeling practice." Reed said he might see some time on kickoff return to utilize his speed.
– JaMichael Winston called Froholdt "a rare, special guy." He's been very impressed with his physicality.
– Kevin Richardson told me it doesn't really bother him that Arkansas doesn't play an SEC home game until almost Halloween. He also said he doesn't see Arkansas as a dark horse like many media outlets.
– Josh Liddell said Arkansas' secondary "could be the best in the country" depending on how hard they work. He says the defense really clicked last season when Bielema installed a period at the end of practice called "the perfect 4th quarter" in which the defense would line up on the ball and ONLY make sure everyone was in the right spots and the right checks were made. It helped Arkansas' defense hold opponents to 9 PPG the last five games of the season.