FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas football program has been plagued by legal problems this spring.

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas football program has been plagued by legal problems this spring.

Six players have been arrested in the past three months. Five of them have been on felony charges. The most recent came on May 12, when wide receivers Marquel Wade and Maudrecus Humphrey and tight end Andrew Peterson were charged with residential burglary after allegedly stealing items from dorm rooms.

But Arkansas coach John L. Smith, who was hired April 23 to replace Petrino for the 2012 season, wanted to make one thing clear when he addressed the media Wednesday. The mounting arrests — and the black eyes they’ve created for a program already dealing with Bobby Petrino’s firing — aren’t being taken lightly.

“We’re going to demand they do the right things,” Smith said.

Smith spoke publicly about the recent incident for the first time since Wade, Peterson and Humphrey were arrested on May 12. It was one of several topics Smith covered before addressing the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Club as part of its spring banquet in Fayetteville.

All three players have been suspended indefinitely from the team, are not currently participating in offseason work and don’t even have lockers. Smith also revealed all three are not even in school for the first summer session as they work through the legal process.

“It’s very serious,” Smith said about the situation. “It’s a felony. It’s a serious, serious thing. And again, they’re not a part of this football team until this thing gets cleared up or they may never be a part.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The three are the only players who have been arrested since Smith was named Arkansas’ coach.

But offensive lineman Jason Peacock was charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing a debit card in March and using it to purchase $35.01 in gas. He has a trial date set for June 18, but did rejoin the team for the final stretch of spring practice and Smith believes “he’s got that problem corrected.”

Former receiver Kane Whitehurst was arrested for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance April 1. He was released from his scholarship this month and intends to transfer.

Linebacker Tyler Gilbert was arrested for felony aggravated residential burglary and theft of property. He was suspended indefinitely by then-interim coach Taver Johnson. Smith updated Gilbert’s status on Wednesday night, saying he “has at least a locker to work out in if I might say that.”

Smith said he plans to handle each situation separately. Before Wade, Humphrey and Peterson were arrested, Smith said he intended to give players who made mistakes before he was hired a chance to earn their way back on the team.

It’s a message he echoed Wednesday night.

“What we try to do is if it’s the best thing for this football team that they’re not here they won’t be here,” Smith said. “But at the same point what you try to do is look at each individual and say ‘OK, we still want to do what’s best for the individual if we can.’ Give him an opportunity. Give them an opportunity if a mistake has been made to correct the mistake. “If they can’t correct it, then you have to correct it for them. That’s the way it is going to be. We’re in the process right now. It’s in the legal channels and we’re just going to have to wait and see if they can correct the issue.”

More importantly, Smith said the recent rash of arrests have been addressed with the team.

He did not disclose the conversation Wednesday, but said a message has been sent and believes players have taken it to heart.

“If it hasn’t, it certainly will before it’s all said and done,” Smith said. “I think it has. I think for the most part our guys are paying attention. They’re wanting to do the right things. Even our guys that have made some mistakes. Hopefully they understand, ‘You’re going to have to correct it or you won’t be here.’ It’s pretty simple.”

In addition to discipline, Smith addressed a few other topics on Wednesday night. Some of the highlights included:

• Three players — Whitehurst, Quinta Funderburk and Brock Haman — were released from their scholarships this spring. Smith was asked if there were any other players who have decided to transfer from Arkansas. His response: “When that happens we’ll definitely let you know. That’s a distinct possibility.”

• Smith was asked whether running back Knile Davis would see any contact before Arkansas’ opener. Smith said: “I think he’s going to have to have a hit or two” before adding “maybe not three or four.” He believes absorbing contact before the season begins will be important to Davis’ recovery from a broken ankle.

• Players have returned to campus and summer workouts are underway. Smith said it’s a “crucial” time of year: “I’m a big believer that if we work hard and do the things we’re supposed to do, we can win a couple games this summer, just by preparation, outworking our opponents. I think our attitude, our want, our energy from those players is going to make sure it gets done. Again, it’s up to those guys.”