FAYETTEVILLE -- Offensive linemen Cameron Jefferson and Sebastian Tretola have arrived on campus to give Arkansas its full NCAA allotment of 105 football players for the opening of preseason practice today.
Jefferson, a fifth-year senior transfer from UNLV with immediate eligibility, is expected to compete for a starting spot at guard. Tretola, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, figures to compete at guard and center.
"I'm glad to see them finally here," Arkansas senior offensive tackle Brey Cook said Sunday night after a team meeting. "It's been awhile. Everyone was kind of waiting.
"But they look good. They look ready to go."
Jefferson and Tretola missed all of the Razorbacks' summer workouts, but Cook said they shouldn't be too far behind their new teammates.
"I'm sure they'll do fine," Cook said. "They're both experienced guys. Coming from juco and coming from UNLV, they have experience playing and playing very well.
"Obviously, they wouldn't be here if they didn't. I assume they'll come in and attack it."
None of the Razorbacks will be hitting in full pads until later in the week. Under NCAA rules, players are allowed to wear helmets with jerseys and shorts in the first two practices. They can add shoulder pads for the third practice and go in full pads starting with the fifth practice.
"We're hungry," Cook said. "We're ready to come in and pop pads. It's been a couple of months.
"Everyone is kind of jumping around, fidgeting, ready to hit. It will be nice to get out there with the whole team, coaches and everybody."
The Razorbacks are looking to bounce back from a 3-9 record last season, including 0-8 in the SEC. They take a school-record nine-game losing streak into this season with their last victory coming on Sept. 14, 2013 when they beat Southern Mississippi 24-3.
"The mind-set of every player on this team is, when we come in, we don't come in to play," Arkansas junior defensive tackle DeMarcus Hodge said Sunday night. "We come in to work, no matter what it is. We're going to give every ounce of our being in every workout.
"I just see it in everybody's face that they went out there and gave it everything they got. Nobody saved up nothing, and that's going to continue to help us get better."
The Razorbacks open the season at defending SEC champion Auburn Aug. 30.
"We get a chance to come out the first game of the season and prove ourselves against the defending SEC champs and show all the work and preparation we did in the off-season and spring," Hodge said. "Come out and show what we can do and how much we improved."
Cook said everyone will be fighting for starting jobs or to get a spot on the depth chart during preseason practice.
"It's a great time for competition -- younger guys to step up and challenge the older guys for spots and starters to really defend their position," Cook said.
The Razorbacks got a taste for the start of practice when they lifted weights on the stadium field last week.
"It was as close to camp as you can get, being out there on the field and heavy weights in our hands," Cook said. "The off-season is really all about heavy weights. That was kind of the summit. We're ready to get into camp."
Senior Luke Charpentier and junior Mitch Smothers closed spring practice as the starters at left guard and center.
"They understand the new guys are going to come in and offer competition, which is what we want," Cook said. "Everyone wants competition. We all want somebody to fight with.
"They've got it. I've got it. We've all got it. That's something great to have here."
Cook represented the Razorbacks at SEC media days at Hoover, Ala., in July along with Coach Bret Bielema, defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Alan Turner.
"It was a blast," Cook said. "It was so exciting to come out there and see everybody ready to go.
"That was just another step getting us hyped up for this fall. Everything is building up and now we're here, so we're ready to go."
Sports on 08/04/2014
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