Leader Blues

Friday, August 22, 2008

SPORTS>>Lights bright on Broadway

FAYETTEVILLE — There was big news on Broadway.

Not New York’s Broadway. Arkansas’ Broadway. Ramon Broadway to be exact.

The bright lights are on Broadway as a first-team cornerback. Razorback defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said the sophomore for now has moved ahead of senior captain Jamar Love at boundary corner.

Robinson said “nothing is etched in stone” as far as which one will start in the season opener against Western Illinois, Aug. 30 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Nor is anything settled at safety, with junior Matt Harris now contesting senior Dallas Washington at tight (strong) safety and also likely to continue contending with freshman free safety Elton Harris, recently advancing ahead of Harris.

“If all of a sudden we make those position changes and we change our depth chart, you’d like to think that the guy that’s moved from a one to two is going to bristle up and try to compete and come back and be a one,” Robinson said.

It’s obvious he wants Love more than just to bristle up.

“We didn’t feel like he’d been playing up to his consistency,” Robinson said. “So we had to make that move to hopefully sit down there burn a fire underneath his butt.”

Meanwhile, Broadway stands first team.

A third-year sophomore, Broadway lettered last year mainly on special teams but also logged some time in the secondary and broke up a pass and recovered a fumble.

During the August preseason, Broadway not only has been making the big plays with interceptions but also doing the little things consistently, Robinson said.

“Right now,” Robinson said, “he’s playing at a level that is consistent, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Broadway knows Robinson and cornerbacks coach Lorenzo Ward always look for more.

“I feel like I’ve had a decent camp,” Broadway said. “There are things I could have done better. Me and Coach Ward got in the film room and worked on technique.”

On the offensive line, sophomore Wade Grayson of Harrison continues competing with senior incumbent Mitch Petrus at first-team guard and also in emergency preparation at backup center behind Jonathan Luigs, the senior two-time All-American and 2007 Rimington Award winner.

Grayson said “it’s still kind of even” as he and Petrus split first-team time.

What kind of time does that leave Grayson at center?

“I’m pretty much guard right now,” Grayson said, “but they still have got me working on some center stuff. After practice and before practice they’ve got me doing snaps and working on my calls. I just don’t work on it during practice.”

Seth Oxner, the redshirt freshman from Monticello with whom Grayson has twice traded places in guard-center swaps, takes the backup center reps in practice.

However, offensive line coach Mike Summers does want Grayson prepared at center, too.

“Knowing center from earlier helped me a lot,” Grayson said. “Knowing center helps you know both guard positions because you pretty well have got to tell them what to do.”

Is he game-ready to play center if needed?

“Uh, I wouldn’t go that far,” Grayson said. “But I am getting there. A few things I need to work on getting the calls right but the basic stuff, I’ve got all that down. As far as game-plan, I feel a little bit behind.”

What about snapping?

“We’ve been working on those,” Grayson said. “They were good the first few days of practice and they started getting bad. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Finally me and Coach Summers started snapping together and we got it all figured out now.”

With true freshman running back De’Anthony Curtis of Camden Fairview still not able to practice because of last week’s knee injury, fellow true freshman Dennis Johnson of Texarkana logged lots of work this week behind fourth-year junior starting running back Michael Smith.

“Dennis Johnson is the one that’s gotten a lot of reps here lately and has really done some good things,” running backs coach Tim Horton said. “I think we’ll see a lot out of him. He’s starting to learn the offense better. He’s going to play and play a lot and play early.”