As a three-year starter at the University of Arkansas, college athlete Kim Dameron knew the school’s calling the hogs chant all too well.
In Fayetteville, fans of the Razorbacks deliver the chant multiple times during football games.
During his college career, which went from walk-on to defensive back to wide receiver, Dameron played in four bowl games.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, head coach Kim Dameron will take his Eastern Illinois Panthers to face a team he grew up rooting for in his home state.
“I’ve got a ton of friends there,” said Dameron, a native of Rogers, Ark. “My family is in the Dallas area now, but they’re all coming up. Most of my family is Razorback fans. They better be wearing blue, I’ll tell you that!
“If they’re not wearing blue, I’m not going to give them a ticket,” he joked.
Dameron’s team will debut its new Air Raid offense against the Southeastern Conference opponent, featuring two new faces at quarterback, junior college transfer Harry Woodbery and Tulane transfer Johnathan Brantley.
Saturday also will be a homecoming for several of the seven Arkansas players on EIU’s roster, including defensive backs Iziah Gulley and Corneliuss Page, who both played at Fairview High School in Camden, about 300 miles south of Fayetteville.
“We don’t have a pro team in Arkansas, so growing up everybody wanted to be a Razorback,” Gulley said.
Both players said they are expecting an excited group of about 40 friends and family members to attend.
“Every day my parents would call and say, ‘Hey, do you know when y’all are going to get the tickets?’” Page said.
While they will experience plenty of excitement being at home, Dameron and his players will face the unusual feeling of also being away from home in Fayetteville.
“I’ve been there a couple times as an assistant,” said Dameron, who coached at SEC rival Ole Miss from 2008-2010. “The first time you go in and they’re calling the hogs and it’s not for you, it’s really weird.”
Three key matchups
1. EIU CBs DySaun Smith/Mark Williams vs. Arkansas WRs: Smith has played 26 career games and Williams was a freshman All-American last season. Arkansas boasts three players who caught at least 25 passes last season.
2. Arkansas OL vs. EIU D-line: The Hogs are just that, averaging 307.2 pounds per man in the starting lineup. Expect them to run the ball plenty against the Panthers, who average 274 pounds on the defensive front.
3. EIU Air Raid vs. Arkansas LBs: The success of Eastern’s Air Raid offense could depend on active Arkansas linebackers De’Jon Harris and Dre Greenlaw, who combined for 218 tackles last season.
Eastern Illinois at Arkansas, 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Game airs on SEC Network.