|Marquel Wade was expected to be the Hogs' No. 1 punt returner this season. (Presswire)|
The return of four Arkansas players arrested this spring on burglary charges appears to be a longer shot than ever.
Razorbacks head coach John L. Smith indicated to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at SEC media days that none of the four players are current members of the team and that he doesn't expect any of their suspensions to be lifted. None of the four was featured in the Razorback media guide distributed at the media days.
In May, receivers Maudrecas Humphrey and Marquel Wade and tight end Andrew Peterson were each arrested and charged with felony residential burglary. Their arrests came less than a month after linebacker Tyler Gilbert had also been charged with felony burglary and theft of property. Gilbert's trial is set for July 26, with the trial for the other three accused Razorbacks scheduled for August 27.
With tackle Jason Peacock arrested in March after admitting to using a stolen credit card to buy gasoline and receiver Kane Whitehurst arrested shortly thereafter on marijuana charges, the Razorbacks have seen six players arrested in 2012 alone.
If there's any silver lining to that statistic, it's that only Peacock -- the starting right tackle -- was a major contributor in 2011, and that the absences of Humphrey, Peterson, and Gilbert aren't expected to felt outside of the lower reaches of the depth chart and special teams. There was hope among some Razorback supporters, however, that Wade might return--unlike the other three alleged burglars, he was charged with only one count of burglary. And Wade was expected to play a major role on special teams as a returner, with his 14 kickoff returns for 358 yards (and a touchdown) and 12 returned punts for 99 yards marking him as Joe Adams' heir apparent.
But with Smith having hit media days with no signs of changing his mind and Wade's trial slated to come far too late into August to exonerate him in time for the season, it's just about time to give up on whatever glimmer of hope was left.
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