Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Some of the fiercest competition when Arkansas' preseason camp opens in August will be in the secondary.
Junior cornerback Isaac Madison and sophomore free safety Elton Ford are the two returning starters, but Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said last week in Destin, Fla., at the spring meetings that nothing's written in stone.
Who could blame him? The Razorbacks gave up a league-high 22 touchdown passes a year ago.
"I think we're going to see a lot of competition in the secondary, and we need to be sure we have everybody in the right spots," Petrino said. "The recruiting class that we signed, the addition of a couple of junior college players and some really good freshmen we have coming in, means there will be great competition. Guys will have to fight for their jobs. That will make everybody in the secondary better."
Two newcomers who should really liven up things in the preseason are junior college safety Anthony Leon and freshman cornerback Darius Winston. The 230-pound Leon, who started his career at Florida State before transferring to the College of the Sequoias, could quickly find his way into the starting lineup. Winston was one of the Hogs' most heralded freshman signees. He was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 3 cornerback prospect in the country.
Petrino said it's still too early to know for sure what Ford's status will be this fall. A terrific freshman season was cut short a year ago by a cracked vertebrae in his neck, and he was also held out of contact this spring.
"He's on track and looking great, but we still need to see how he responds when we get to practice," Petrino said. "We're going to do what's best for him. If redshirting him is what's best, that's what we'll do. We'll see how it all plays out."