Arkansas senior wideout Cobi Hamilton has dubbed him the best tight end in the country.
The rest of the country might be saying the same thing about Arkansas senior Chris Gragg (6-3, 236) by the time the 2012 season is over.
Gragg had 9 catches for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns Saturday as he helped lead the Red to a 65-0 win over the White in the Razorbacks' Red-White game.
"I think the (school-record scrimmage crowd of) 45,000 saw how big he helps us today," Hamilton said. "He is a great guy on third downs and he is the best tight end in the country in my opinion. I think a lot of people feel that way. His work ethic is unbelievable and he will just keep on improving."
Gragg had big scrimmages all spring and culminated that with his effort on Saturday, one in which he had already hauled in six receptions for 96 yards from returning All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson by halftime.
"I had a good day in the scrimmage and it was just some of the things that I have been working on in practice – that's just being consistent and going out there and making plays for Tyler when my number is called," Gragg said "I had one drop, but I think overall I had a good day."
Gragg entered 2011 with just nine catches for 196 yards and a pair of scores, but had 41 catches for 518 yards and two touchdowns last season.
He is poised to have even bigger numbers this season with seniors Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Child all having exhausted their eligibility.
"I think I have gotten a lot better at playing the tight end position this spring, being a blocker and a pass catcher and being the pass catcher that they want to go to on third and fourth downs," Gragg said.
It helps that the ball is thrown in the exact place it needs to be as it has been by Wilson.
"Tyler has been getting better every day," Gragg said. "He comes to work every day. He is prepared and he is in the meeting room early and leaving late. It is showing out there."
Gragg heads up a tight end group that also includes currently injured junior-to-be Austin Tate (seven catches, 53 yards last season), true freshman Demetrius Dean (two catches for 20 yards on Saturday).
The Razorbacks also have redshirt freshmen Andrew Peterson (6-6, 252) and Brett Weir (6-5, 250) and walk-ons Alex Voelzke (6-6, 220) and Brad Taylor (6-4, 224) listed at the position.
"They are all coming along really good," Gragg said. "The young ones like Demetrius just have to get in his playbook and that will make him play faster. He is going to be a great player.
"Tate is an older guy and he knows what he is doing and when he gets back healthy he is going to help us out a lot," Gragg added.
Gragg, who missed the 2009 season with a gruesome dislocated left ankle, pronounced the spring a success for the offense.
"I think overall we did pretty good," Gragg said. "I mean we put up 65 points. I think that is pretty good. If we could go out and do that every game in the fall I think we could be pretty good."
He was pleased with the turnout from the fans, which broke last season's scrimmage record of 42,000 fans.
"The fans were great," Gragg said. "We heard them calling the Hogs before we ever got out there. It just brings back chills and gets you going and ready for the fall.
"It was great," Gragg added. "All the work we put in and all trials we have been through this spring, I think it is just going to make us better for a fall."
Gragg is looking forward to having a new coach named soon – be it interim or permanent – to replace the outsted Bobby Petrino.
Arkansas AD Jeff Long said Saturday that the hiring would come in a matter of days and not weeks.
"It will be just good to know who is going to be taking us on the road for this next season," Gragg said. "We have faith in Jeff Long and the rest of the administration to make that decision. Our team goals are still the same."
Clearly the fans haven't given up on this team.
"They are ready for the season," Gragg said. "I was signing autographs after the game and they were telling me how they can't wait. It gave me goose bumps and has me ready to go."
That gives the players confidence and a good feeling headed into summer workouts.
"It does," Gragg said. "Just going out there and performing like that and having a good performance in front of your fans – who have been wanting to see us out there on the field – it gives a good feeling to us and I bet our fans as well."
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