Cobi Hamilton’s mind was already on No. 10 Arkansas’ scrimmage Saturday night early in the week.
That focus was evident in front of 15,000 in Razorback Stadium for the team’s final public scrimmage, with Hamilton catching 11 passes for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The performance was an added bit of reassurance that the senior is indeed ready to assume the role of No. 1 target for Arkansas as it prepares to open its season by hosting Jacksonville State on Sept. 1.
Hamilton had 34 catches for 542 yards last season while playing behind the receiving trio of Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright – all fourth-round NFL picks. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Hamilton has performed as the top receiving threat for Arkansas throughout preseason camp, but he had several drops in last week’s scrimmage and couldn’t wait for another chance to shine.
”This scrimmage really started Monday,” Hamilton said. ”It started when we got back on the practice field. We knew we had another chance this weekend, and we knew we wanted to come out here and dominate Saturday.”
The defense stole the headlines in last week’s scrimmage from the usually reliable offense, which led the Southeastern Conference in total offense and scoring last year. Quarterback Tyler Wilson threw two was interceptions last week, but he rebounded Saturday with a 22-of-37 performance for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
Wilson’s longest completion was a 65-yard touchdown pass to Hamilton, who caught the ball over the middle and changed directions before racing down the sideline for the score.
”You’ve got to get that guy going,” Wilson said. ”That’s key to us playing really, really well is having him clicking. Because we’re going to him on a lot of key downs.”
Arkansas running back Knile Davis, returning after missing last season with an ankle injury, didn’t take part in the scrimmage. Davis, who led SEC running backs in rushing two years ago, still hasn’t faced full contact this preseason.
Razorbacks coach John L. Smith said he didn’t know if Davis, who has taken part in every part of practice except the scrimmages, would face full contact before the season opener. Davis was injured during a preseason scrimmage last August.
”We’ve always had a philosophy, get the good guys to the game,” Smith said.
With or without Davis, Arkansas’ offense looked much better than it did a week earlier. Freshman running back Jonathan Williams added 115 yards rushing on 18 carries, but it was Hamilton who showed what he’s capable of now that he’s out of the shadow of Adams, Childs and Wright.
”Cobi had a big night, and that’s what we expect from Cobi every night, every day,” Smith said. ”He’s a really good football player, and as you can tell, our guys look for him because he’s a go-to guy.”
Hamilton was just happy the offense overall performed better Saturday, The only negative he could find was a celebration penalty following his long touchdown.
”We’ve just scratched the surface of what this season’s going to be,” Hamilton said. ”I’m really excited about what this offense can do. It’s going to be amazing this year.”