Bequette inherits leadership role on Hogs defensive front
"I'm one of the older guys," now said Bequette, a third-generation Hog, who will complete his degree in May despite having two seasons of eligibility remaining. "It's time for me to step up and be a leader. I've tried to do that in our off-season drills."
Bequette (6-5, 271) will anchor the Hogs' defensive front, along with fellow junior, Zach Stadther (6-1, 295) at tackle, senior tackle Patrick Jones (6-1, 309) and veteran back-up end Demario Ambrose (6-5, 270).
"That group has played a lot of football and have improved with time and maturity," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "There were times we were able to pressure quarterback,and we were improved against the run. We need to keep getting better up front, and provide more consistent pressure and not have the lapses that we would have from time to time."
Sophomore Tenarius Wright (6-1, 241) is penciled in as a starter opposite Bequette at the other end spot, but he will miss all of spring practice mending a broken bone in his foot.
"The bone is healing, but he’s not ready," Petrino said. "He did a very good job for us as a freshman and we were looking to him to be a leader for us. He has an opportunity to be very good player. The good part is that he will be healed and ready to go in the summertime."
His injury will allow sophomore Colton Nash (6-6, 261), freshman Ryan Calender (6-7, 241) and senior Caleb Evans (6-4, 254) to get that many more snaps this spring.
Calender, who moved from outside linebacker to end, was a three-sport athlete in high school and is behind in weight training, according to Petrino, but is a natural athlete.
Nash, who played tight end last fall, might benefit the most from Wright's injury. Petrino expects him to be a player who can be counted on next fall.
"He’s very physical," Petrino said. He can snap his hips and run his feet. In leading up to the bowl, he practiced at both tight end and defensive end. We feel like he can add to our strength at defensive end. He’s quick and has good hands. He’s got to play at a little better pad level, but he will really get a chance to compete and see where he is at. I think he will help us a lot."
Perhaps the most naturally gifted lineman on the team is DeQuinta Jones, who made an impact as a 6-5, 307-pound freshman tackle last fall. Jones, however, needs to be more consistent to get the most out of his ability.
Junior tackle Lavunce Askew (6-3, 290) turned a corner with his attitude and effort in the off-season and is poised for a good spring. Sophomore Alfred Davis (6-1, 326) is another big man, who will have a shot to earn playing time.