Since he arrived on campus, former Malvern star Grady Ollison (6-5, 285) has lined up at defensive end, guard, tackle and even fullback.
But his time – and spot where he fits – may have finally come as the redshirt sophomore has been working at first-team right tackle for Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman the last three practices.
"I guess it is just hard work pays off," Ollison said. "I've been here going on my third year now. It's a blessing. It's a blessing. It really is. I'm excited about it and I am ready for the season to start.
"He (Pittman) pulled me in his office and I was pretty confident with it," Ollison added. "Everybody else was confident with it so that made me feel good."
The new staff currently has a first-team offensive line of senior left tackle David Hurd (6-6, 309), sophomore left guard Mitch Smothers (6-4, 313), senior center Travis Swanson (6-5, 314), junior left guard Brey Cook and Ollison and Razorback offensive coordinator Jim Chaney likes the look of the group.
"Ollison brings some athleticism to be able to support us on the edge in pass protection game and we thought it was a good move," Chaney said. "We think the match up looked good with swapping around some kids in the offensive line benefitted us and we look forward to seeing those kids grow together. We'll see how it goes on, but right now we think it looks good."
Ollison says he feels comfortable at his new spot.
"I really didn't think too much about it because I had been working at the left tackle spot," Ollison said. "I went and talked to Coach Pittman about it one day out of the blue and it was just one of those last-minute decision things to move me to right tackle. The way that I learned – I learned the left tackle spot and the right tackle spot at the same time. It was just kind of a natural instinct thing."
Coaches have praised Ollison – who is now 285 pounds and would like to be 295-300 by the time the 2013 season starts - for the strides he has made in the offseason working with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.
"Of course, working with Coach Herb in the weight room day in and day out (means) I have gotten a lot stronger and got more mass," Ollison said. "My body is still not where I want it, but it is getting there pretty quick. It's just working with all the coaches in general and figuring out they care about you. They are willing to work with you, they have a lot of confidence in you and it gives you more confidence in yourself as a player. I'm just getting at it."
Ollison said the transition from one coaching staff to another has gone well for him.
"For the main part, this is a fairly simple offense," Ollison said. "All you have to do is just learn the basic plays and everything else will just come along with it.
"...I'm pretty comfortable with the offensive line," Ollison added. "I like the guys that I am playing with – Big Brey, Swanson. They are like field generals out there. It is pretty exciting."
He does know that he would rather be an offensive lineman than a fullback, where he played five games at last season while also being of the field goal team.
"It is a lot better than fullback," Ollison said. "Hitting somebody from a yard is a lot better than going downhill and hitting somebody from eight or nine yards away. That gives you a headache sometimes."
But he was glad to get out on the field anyway possible last season.
"It (fullback) wasn't really tough, but I was just anxious to get in, my first time playing and just being on that field representing the home state," Ollison said. "That's been my dream."
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