If they had filmed an episode of Without a Trace in Fayetteville last fall, the star of the show would likely have been Arkansas redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Anthony Oden.
One minute Oden (6-8, 312) was here practicing and the next it was as if he had just vanished into thin air.
It turned out to be a severe case of mono that first placed a redshirt on him while keeping him out of practice and then forced him home to Indianapolis.
"It was real tough," Oden said. "I wanted to be here with my teammates, but every weekend I was at home watching them and couldn't be out there."
Oden, the brother of oft-injured NBA player Greg Oden, actually saw time as a true freshman after arriving in Fayetteville from a stint at Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military Academy.
He was poised to push for playing time – and maybe even unseat senior Ray Dominquez – as a true sophomore before mono jumped all over him.
Oden went from 335 pounds to below 300.
"They said it was mono at first and then they said they really didn't know," Oden said. "…It was throwing up all day, losing weight. That kind of contributed to it a little bit, too."
Oden regained the weight, but then dropped some of it again because he wanted to do so and is practicing this spring at 312.
"It takes a little bit to get used to, especially run blocking but it feels good," Oden said. "I lost it just running. They said they wanted me to be at 315 to 320. They want us to lean out for spring ball."
Oden actually started against Alabama as a true freshman becoming the first Razorback rookie to do so since Shawn Andrews in 2001 – ironically both getting that start in Tuscaloosa.
The Indianapolis North standout would play in six other games, more of a brute force guy than one with great technique.
"I came in with the mindset that I wanted to come in and compete," Oden said. "It was alright, but I didn't do what I wanted to do early."
Oden is one of several tackles getting a good look at the two tackle spots this spring with Grant Cook splitting reps with him at strong tackle.
Brey Cook, Jason Peacock and vet Grant Freeman are dividing the snaps at weak tackle.
"I just want to try to come out and compete and get better every day," Oden said. "…The coaches just really want us to come out and compete each day and they are just putting guys in certain situations so we have to compete hard every single day. We go for four plays and then we are out for four plays."
Oden admits being off for almost two weeks for spring break made it tough to get back out on Tuesday.
"They had us a workout to do to try and stay on top of it," Oden said. "It was still pretty tough being back after being off so long, but we just grinded and pushed through it."
Without A Trace
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