Arkansas Media Day Diary: Sam Pittman on Injuries, COVID, Vaccinations and More

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas held its media day on Thursday with Sam Pittman, wide receiver Treylon Burks and safety Jalen Catalon in attendance.

Here are some of the topics discussed during Media Day.

Stability in year 2

The start of his sophomore year was different for Pittman after COVID eliminated spring training last year and hampered much of summer practice. We asked him where was the program from year 2?

“Certainly the first part is that we’re in much better shape,” Pittman said. “We had a much better offseason because we had more time. I think we are in better shape. I think because of the meetings that we have been able to have and the continuity with the return of our three coordinators, I think that all of these things are going to be beneficial to us. But we feel much better in our football team. We know them better and they probably know us better, that’s probably equally important, one or the other. 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, there was all that, but I was the head coach at the University of Arkansas,” Pittman said. “So it was definitely worth it. This year which is beginning, these are obviously the unknowns of COVID. It wears you out a bit. Not a lot. We are very well prepared. Our staff is very well prepared. I love what we do during our 25 days.

“We have already kind of lived in the last year in the steps without padding. Thus, the “spider days”, the seven spiders. We think we can get a lot of work done in the spider. I’m really not too concerned about a whole bunch of things except that we have to find positions. It might not be quite the starter.

Pittman also likes the spirit of the team heading into this second year.

“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 Arkansas State. It’s not about recruiting, it’s just the truth. I think it’s a confident band. You have to do something to continue to stay confident. You have to be successful in some way.

“I’ve said it before, I thought coming in at halftime against Georgia last year, even though we didn’t win the game, boosted confidence in this program. Hey, we can do that. At the end of the day, if you put two halves together, what can happen? I love the behavior of the team. I love the new guys we brought in, the transfers and the students from first year. I’m very proud of the new coaches we’ve brought in. I don’t know if it’s fairy tale country in there, but it’s pretty cool right now.

injured

Jonesboro freshman linebacker Marco Avant is the only player who won’t be available early due to injury.

“Marco Avant had surgery and his foot is not ready,” Pittman said. “He would be the only young man I was talking about as he won’t be quite ready to start the season.”

COVID vaccination

The Razorbacks are among the most successful SEC teams with COVID-immunized players.

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 that you don’t know the facts about. We’re 90 per cent in our football team, we is over 93% in our building. I’m proud of it. 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: “We want to play. We haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated. There’s not much we can do other than masking and six feet – there’s a lot we can do about that.” I didn’t want to say that, but we didn’t have the vaccine. I’m very proud of our team. They want to play football and they don’t have to. It was their choice, but I’m proud of our team. This is happening in the NFL right now and hopefully there will be a day hopefully soon when we don’t have to talk about the vaccine because we have t figured out a way to figure it out, but that’s definitely not the case today as I look here at all these masks.

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