FAYETTEVILLE — Previously injured senior right tackle Dalton Wagner and previously injured graduate transfer senior defensive tackle Markell Utsey both will return for the Arkansas Razorbacks’ SEC game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said Monday.
The Razorbacks, 5-3 overall/ 1-3 in the SEC West, host Mississippi State, 5-3, 3-2 in the SEC West, at 3 p.m. Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium televised by the SEC Network.
Wagner has been idled by hand surgery which had an extra week to heal with last week’s open date week following Wagner missing the Oct. 16 SEC loss to Auburn and the Oct. 23 nonconference victory over UAPB (Arkansas-Pine Bluff).
Utsey also was withheld from the UAPB game and withheld from contact during the open date practices last week.
“Dalton practiced yesterday (Sunday),” Pittman said. “Did the walkthroughs last week. I expect him to be back.”
Wagner is listed either-or to start with Ty Clary, the senior starting the last two games at right offensive tackle.
Utsey is listed either-or to start with sophomore Eric Gregory, the starter in Utsey’s place against UAPB.
On defense Arkansas’ lists an interesting either-or at nickel back.
Since his freshman year, junior Greg Brooks has logged 26 starts at nickel but came off the bench against UAPB for true freshman Jayden Johnson’s starting opportunity.
Brooks and Johnson are listed either-or to start vs. Mississippi State.
“Greg has been a man about it,” Pittman said of Johnson starting ahead of him. “Obviously when you get replaced you have two options. You can go either beat the guy back out or mope and pout and guarantee you’re not going to beat him out. I think with Simeon Blair (the veteran safety supplanted by Myles Slusher) and Greg both have had great attitudes. You can’t beat somebody out pouting and neither one of them has done that. They’ve gone back trying to win their job back.”
Off last Friday and Saturday after open date workouts Tuesday through Thursday, the Razorbacks regrouped Sunday to start game-week practices vs. Mississippi State. Monday they held their fully padded, hardest practice of game week which they normally do on Tuesdays.
However this Tuesday the NCAA is giving all college teams an off day since its Election Day and allowing athletes ample opportunity to vote.