Let's Get Physical

Arkansas senior fullback Kiero Small (5-10, 245) is loving life right now while relishing the physical style of football that Razorback head coach Bret Bielema is bringing to spring drills.

Arkansas redshirt senior fullback Kiero Small (5-10, 245) looks nothing like 1970s and 80s pop star Oliva Newton-John at all, but they do have one thing in common.

It's their mantra of "Let's Get Physical" - which is certainly the cornerstone of the former Baltimore high school standout's game.

"Physical is my game," Small said. "I am not the fastest or the strongest person, but I try to be the most physical guy out there. So when (Arkansas head) coach (Bret Bielema) comes and tells me he wants to be a physical team, that is great because that is what I try to bring to the offense.

"Four yards a pop – that is about as physical as it is going to get," Small added. "We are running at people, you know it's coming, so let's just line up and play ball."

Small - who starred as a linebacker at Hartnell (CA) Community College - and the Razorbacks' new coaching staff are seemingly a match made in heaven.

"We are lining up and just punching people in the mouth," Small said. "I am on the field a lot more, I am getting the ball more, I am catching the ball. It is all good on my end."

Indeed, Small has delivered plenty of crunching blocks – setting an unofficial record for breaking opponents face masks – but has just one carry for one yard and one touchdown and one catch for seven yards in his 14 games as a Razorback.

That should skyrocket this season with him even getting nine snaps at tailback in last Saturday's scrimmage and coming away with a grade of 97.

Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas called that one of the best scrimmage grades ever in his 14-year coaching history.

"I played tailback back in high school and to get the ball is always a good thing, but I know there are times when I have got to block and times when I am going to be asked to run," Small said.

Small is coming off a 2012 campaign that was shortened by a season-ending injury in practice before the second game of the season.

"It's been good," Small said of getting back out on the field. "When you are sitting out, you just think. It is good to get out there and just clear my mind. Me and Coach Thomas had a talk that when you are playing that is when you just clear out your mind. I have been able to do that."

He comes back a smaller Small, having lost 10 pounds in the off-season.

"I can go longer," Small said. "If you were to go strap a 10-pound weight on yourself and then try and go out there and practice for 21 periods, it is going to weigh you down.

"I can feel myself moving a little quicker, I can go a little longer, but at the same time, I am also stronger than I was at 255," Small added.

That can not be good news for defenders, several of whom had their face masks broken by Small's physical nature in 2011.

"I don't even know the count," Small said. "I have got a couple (this spring). Even when I first started breaking them, I tried not to keep count because I don't want to jinx it."

Small and senior center Travis Swanson are viewed as the veteran leaders on offense that will feature a lot of young talent this season.

"We have seen a lot and we know how it is playing in this league," Small said. "We can bring the younger guys along. The young guys have seen it, but they haven't been in the trenches going against the good d-lines, the good linebackers. We are just trying to bring our experience to the offense and just bring everybody along."

Small has always been happy to provide quiet leadership, but is trying to be more vocal this spring.

"I have always been a guy to try and lead by example and me and Coach Thomas have talks and he wants me to be more vocal and things of that sort," Small said. "I am working on that. I am not the most vocal guy in the locker room. I don't really talk a lot. So I am just trying to pick my spots when to be vocal instead of trying to be a guy that leads by example.

"After 10 practices, we sure are a lot better than we were after practice one. We say you either get better or you get worse. You don't stay the same. That is what we have been trying to do is get better every day.

"As a team we are adapting to this physical style of play and going straight at you," Small added. "The defense knows it's coming...eventually the defense is going to wear down."

Small is getting another chance this season to finish his college career on a high note instead of going out on the 4-8 mark of last season.

"I am just happy that it worked out that I got another year," Small said. "Those seniors were my guys last year. I love those guys. I would have loved to go out with them, but I got another chance and I love the season I am in now with Coach B, who is a great guy. We have a great coaching staff and we are playing my kind of ball."


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