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Razorbacks linebackers shaping up well

By Nate Allen

This article was originally published August 2, 2014 at 2:32 a.m. Updated August 1, 2014 at 1:21 p.m.

arkansas-senior-associate-head-coach-randy-shannon-directs-linebacker-otha-peters-during-practice-thursday-march-20-2014-at-the-ua-practice-field-in-fayetteville

Arkansas senior associate head coach Randy Shannon directs linebacker Otha Peters during practice Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the UA practice field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- While much has been made of the summer addition of UNLV transfer Cameron Jefferson to Arkansas' offensive line, the Razorbacks quietly added a junior college transfer linebacker months after the February signing period.

Sophomore linebacker Josh Williams, 6-2, 240 pounds, transferred from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College and has been in Fayetteville during the summer. He will be among the 105 Razorbacks starting preseason practice Monday.

Williams is the latest Floridian recruited by second-year Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon, the former head coach at the University of Miami.

"Josh is from Fort Lauderdale Dillard High School and came in as a full qualifier," Shannon said. "He is one of those kids who was 190 pounds out of high school and a year later, with the weight program in junior college, he's about 230.

"He's a great addition to us. He's a smart young man, does lot of great things on the field that we saw in junior college. He's a fast, quick guy and he brings depth to the team and also competition."

Arkansas first-year defensive coordinator Robb Smith was asked where Williams could fit.

"After the first week of training camp we'll have a better idea where he fits with the other people," Smith said. "It's not just about Josh, but about working with the other guys. I am really excited about him. His summer has been great, but the big test is coming here with training camp."

As a true freshman last season, starting middle linebacker Brooks Ellis of Fayetteville was the most impactful 2013 addition to Arkansas' linebackers.

Shannon expects continued Ellis improvement.

"Brooks has been doing a great job maturity-wise," Shannon said. "Coming in out of high school as Arkansas' best linebacker, and now he is coming in and learning a whole new system and he has got that under his belt, he's grown a lot. He's competitive and he's smart. We are looking for a lot of great things from him."

Otha Peters, now a junior, was Arkansas' hottest new linebacker in 2012. He was set back by injuries last season but has practiced his way into the thick of it again.

"Otha did well this spring," Shannon said. "He has cut some weight down and looks trim. He's faster than he was last year, which is a tremendous help to us and to him. He's excited about getting back into it, and we are excited for him."

Senior second-year junior college transfer linebacker/safety hybrid Tiquention Coleman may require cloning just to attend all the position meetings, whether it's with Shannon or in the secondary with new defensive backfield coach Clayton Jennings.

"He's a guy that gives a little flexibility that provides some matchups against some spread teams," Smith said. "He's not afraid to stop the run, but he still has some coverage skills with the secondary guys that can help us in space."

Sports on 08/02/2014

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