Arkansas Media Day Notebook: Sam Pittman on Injuries, COVID, Vaccinations And More

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas held its Media Day on Thursday with Sam Pittman, wide receiver Treylon Burks and safety Jalen Catalon all participating.

Here’s a few topics covered at Media Day.

Stability In Year 2

Heading into his second year has been different for Pittman after COVID eliminated spring practice last year as well as hampered much of the summer drills. He was asked where the program is ahead beginning Year 2?

“Certainly the first part is we’re in much better shape,” Pittman said. “We had a much better offseason because we had more time. I think we’re in better shape. I think because of the meetings we were able to have and the continuity with our three coordinators coming back, I think all of those things are going to benefit us. But we feel a lot better about our football team. We know them better and they know us better probably is as important, either one. Feel good about it.”

Pittman is a positive coach and found a silver lining in all the COVID ramifications that hampered preparation last spring.

“To answer the first part of it, there was all that stuff, but I was the head coach at the University of Arkansas,” Pittman said. “So, that made it all very much worth it. This year going in, obviously it’s the unknowns of COVID. It wears on you somewhat. Not a whole lot. We’re very well prepared. Our staff is very well prepared. I love what we’re doing in our 25 days.

“We’ve already kind of been through last year in the non-padded walks. So, the ‘spider days’, the seven spiders. We think we can get a lot of work in spider. I’m really not too concerned about a whole lot of things except we have to find some positions. It might not be just totally the starter.”

Pittman likes the mindset of the team heading into this second year as well.

“I love them,” Pittman said. “I love the team. I think they’re hungry. We’re a chip on the shoulder, tough, proud. We love the state of Arkansas. That’s not for recruiting, that’s just the truth. I think they’re a confident group. You have to do something to continue to stay confident. You have to have success in whatever way that may be.

“I’ve said it before, I thought going in at halftime against Georgia last year, even though we didn’t win the game, built confidence in this program. Hey, we can do this. The bottom line is if you put two halves together, what may happen? I love the demeanor of the team. I like the new guys we brought in, the transfers and freshmen. I’m very proud of the new coaches we’ve brought in. I don’t know if it’s fairytale land in there, but it’s pretty nice right now.”

Injured

Jonesboro freshman linebacker Marco Avant is the one player who will not be available at the beginning because of an injury.

“Marco Avant has had some surgery and his foot’s not ready,” Pittman said. “That would be the one young man I was talking about as far as won’t be quite ready to start the season.”

COVID Vaccinations

The Razorbacks are among the teams in the SEC having the most success with the players getting the COVID vaccinations.

I’m proud of our team,” Pittman said. “You get all the remarks that you can’t play football because, well, you can’t really comment on anything you don’t know the facts of. We’re 90% on our football team, we’re over 93% in our building. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of it because it was their choice and that’s how they chose because they want to play. Last year, our team tweeted out, ‘We want to play.’ We didn’t have the opportunity to get the vaccine. There’s not a whole lot we could do about it besides the masking and the six feet — there’s a lot we could do about it. I didn’t meant that, but we didn’t have the vaccine. I’m very proud of our team. They want to play football and they weren’t forced to do it. That was their choice, but I’m proud of our staff. It’s going on in the NFL right now and I hope there’s a day hopefully soon where we don’t have to talk about the vaccine because we found a way to figure it out, but certainly it’s not that way today as I’m looking here at all these masks.”

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