Arkansas Football: 5 Key Reserve Razorbacks Who Must Play Big in 2012
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We all know the accolades and hype surrounding quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis on offense. We know wide receivers Mekale McKay and Cobi Hamilton will get their fair share of balls.
On defense, the linebacking corps has a lot of experience in Alonzo Highsmith, Tenarius Wright and Jarrett Lake.
However, what about the reserves in all of these areas?
Here's a look at five reserve players who must play big for the Razorbacks in 2012 if they are to go after a conference title.
Dennis Johnson, RB
Dennis Johnson will be a key backup for the Razorbacks at running back this year.
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Knile Davis has received a lot of attention during the offseason, and deservedly so. He had 1,322 yards rushing in 2010 as he garnered first-team All-SEC honors.
However, Davis broke his ankle last year and he missed the entire season, but he's back this year and is a preseason All-SEC selection.
Still, Dennis Johnson might be the most key reserve on the roster for a variety of reasons. He'll give Davis breaks here and there, and he'll also be there should Davis get injured again.
Johnson had 670 yards rushing last year, including 160 yards against Ole Miss. He'll be a valuable asset to the entire team no matter what his role is this year.
Demetrius Wilson, WR
The wide receiver position has a good mix of veterans, but there will be one freshman starting for the team.
Demetrius Wilson is valuable in the sense that he's sitting behind freshman Mekale McKay. Nothing against McKay and his abilities, but this is the SEC and there is a learning curve.
Should McKay not be able to play up to the competition in the conference, Wilson is going to be called upon to take over the spot.
Although Wilson doesn't have the experience either, he's a bit more mature and is likely to handle the pressure better than McKay. Plus, let's not forget Arkansas loves to pass the ball, so the No. 4 receiver is huge in that offense.
Robert Thomas, DT
Although in a reserve role, Robert Thomas is going to get a lot of playing time in a run-heavy conference.
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When you play in the SEC, you know you're going to get a heavy dose of the run.
For Arkansas, teams like Alabama, LSU and South Carolina are going to test the middle of the defensive line. That means a backup like defensive tackle Robert Thomas will be huge in stuffing the run.
While some running backs like to go to the outside, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore and Alabama's Eddie Lacy are going to bust it through the middle. Thomas and the other linemen should be licking their chops because of this.
Last year, Thomas totaled 23 tackles and one sack in a reserve role. While still in that role this year, he should see a few more snaps.
If the energy can stay up on the defensive line, I see no reason why Arkansas can't have one of the top three rush defenses in the conference.
Jason Peacock, OT
Jason Peacock, left, makes a block against Texas A&M last year.
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Jason Peacock brings a lot of experience as a backup offensive lineman. Prior to coming to Arkansas, Peacock played for two seasons at Citrus College where he earned second-team All-Conference honors.
That experience provides the Razorbacks with a reliable backup that will be huge should an injury occur or if he's needed late in games.
The holes that he can possibly open up just might give Arkansas that extra bit to put away a win.
Nate Holmes, KR
Dennis Johnson is the top kick returner for Arkansas, but Nate Holmes will also be called upon in various situations.
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With Dennis Johnson also being the primary backup at running back, Nate Holmes could be an X-factor on special teams.
Just a freshman, Holmes is a speed demon, and he showed off his athletic skill in high school. Now in the SEC, he will be out to prove that he can be one of the best in the conference.
All Arkansas has to do is give him a chance. Johnson won't be able to return all of the kicks and punts.
My guess is the coaching staff will see what the kid can do in their first two games of the season (Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe) before getting to the SEC portion of their schedule.