Arkansas plans on having Jones FAYETTEVILLE — Until Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt hears otherwise, he’s counting on quarterback Matt Jones returning for his senior season. Jones has missed the first four spring practices but might participate today, Nutt said Thursday. When Nutt and Jones talked Monday, they set today as a target for Jones ’ possible return after trying to catch up on schoolwork that lagged while Jones played for the Arkansas basketball team, Nutt said. "I’m hoping he gets everything done and gets out here," Nutt said. Last month, Jones was noncommittal about returning to football, saying only that he had not given the matter any thought because he was wrapped up with basketball. He never indicated why he might consider skipping his final season and has not commented on the subject since basketball season. Jones is the only returning starter on offense and is known to like basketball more than football, but Nutt said quitting football has not been an issue. "We never have had that conversation," Nutt said. "I’m just assuming that he’s going to be here. Those rumors started before, I think, right in the mid-season of basketball and [again] right after the last game. So, again, I haven’t heard that conversation, so I’m expecting him to be here." Jones was Arkansas’ leading passer (57.4 percent, 1,917 yards, 18 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) and second-leading rusher (707 yards, 8 TDs) last season. He accounted for almost half the team’s total yards and ran or threw for almost half its touchdowns. An expanded role awaits. Nutt would like to try Jones on punt returns and, if backup quarterback Robert Johnson keeps developing, use Jones some at receiver. None of that is a priority right now, though. Jones knows the offense. More important would be his presence and potential leadership for an inexperienced team. Jones is one of only 10 scholarship seniors, 14 fewer than were in the 2003 class. "It’s always important for the quarterback to be on the field," Nutt said. "It’s always important, his leadership. He’s the only [ offensive] starter coming back, and it’s good just to get around our guys. I’m not saying he’s going to get out there and take 90 percent of the snaps or anything like that. But just being around our football team, I think it helps everyone." Some of Jones’ teammates have wondered when he might join them. "There’s been rumors floating around whether or not he was going to play this year," senior tailback DeCori Birmingham said. "The only person that knows that is Matt. Not to have him out here is kind of down for us, but he’s been going at it in basketball and needs some time to kind of recoup and get his legs back. We look forward to him coming back out here and being with his team again." Arkansas will go through a few contact drills today and will scrimmage the second half of practice. Most players will receive 20-25 plays each.