BELLA VISTA - Though their court date on burglary charges isn't until Aug. 27, the Arkansas Razorbacks status of suspended wide receivers Marquel Wade and Maudrecus Humphrey and tight end Andrew Peterson likely will be determined by the Razorbacks' Aug. 2 start to preseason drills, Arkansas Coach John L. Smith said before a Northwest Arkansas Razorback Club golf outing Friday at Bella Vista.
"It will probably be resolved before we start camp," Smith said. "Right now they are not in the press guide."
Peterson redshirted last season as a freshman while Humphrey played just enough , mainly on special teams, to letter.
Wade, a freshman letterman last season, was projected a key role replacing graduated All-American punt returner/receiver Joe Adams.
So fifth-year senior Dennis Johnson, a Texarkana Razorback before becoming an Arkansas Razorback kickoff returner/running back in 2008, may return punts in 2012 should Wade not be available early or not at all.
"Dennis Johnson could be and probably be placed in that role more than he has been in the past," Smith said. "We'll answer those questions and the camp will take care of itself."
Smith worked closely with Johnson on special teams when Smith was the special teams coordinator under Bobby Petrino from 2009 through 2011.
Johnson is so adept at returning kickoffs he's on the SEC Coaches first All-SEC Preseason team as an All-Purpose player.
However it's never a certainty that kickoff returning transfers to punt returning though the staff has their fingers crossed.
Johnson would be free for more returns if senior first-team Coaches All-SEC team running back Knile Davis stays healthy and if senior Ronnie Wingo continues improving off a big spring.
"Dennis Johnson has the chance to be one of the best returners," running backs coach Tim Horton said. "So we are expecting big things."
Where is the punt return criteria to judge Johnson?
"He has done it in practice some," Horton said. "He hasn't done it in a game since high school. I think it's something he is receptive to."
Newcomers Nate Holmes, a true freshman running back, and touted junior college transfer receiver Demetrius Wilson also are practicing punt returning over the summer.
"We have got some young guys working on that," Smith said. "Nate for instance has been putting a lot of time into that. Demetrius Wilson, though he's only been a short period of time, is working catching punts."
Wilson, particularly if Wade's suspension lingers into the season, is one newcomer the coaches want displaying the ability to play right away.
"Demetrius Wilson has just got here and runs as well as we anticipated and according to the quarterbacks catches the ball very well," receivers coach Kris Cinkovich said. "We are counting on him a ton."
And have been since the ink dried on his February letter of intent signed at Glendale (Ariz.) Community College.
"We have been working with him since signing day on getting him prepped," Cinkovich said. "Even though we had some distance between us, we had a detailed plan that we have gotten in so that when he comes here you have to got to overcome that junior college learning curve. We don't want to wait four or five game for it to kick in. He has put some time in ahead of this and he needs to come in ready to play and take a job and be a guy."