As a member of the Bentonville Tigers football team, Jack Kraus has been to back-to-back state title games, but has not gotten to taste the championship yet.
He hopes that all changes this year.
"We have a good team this year with a lot of new players and a lot of games that came back," Kraus said. "It's been fun everyday going out and practicing, getting ready for the games and then coming out on Friday nights and winning. It's been fun and we don't plan on stopping until we win a state championship.
"That would mean everything. I mean, our team has been there the last two years, we've just struggled to finish what we started. It would mean everything to me and the team and all the seniors that have been through so much in those previous two state championship runs that ended in losses. So this would be the most meaningful season for us."
Bentonville last won the state title in 2010, beating Brandon Allen and the Fayetteville Bulldogs. The last two years, however, the Tigers lost to Fayetteville as the younger Allen brother, Austin, served as the signal caller for the Bulldogs.
Kraus (6-5, 235) said he has not held any bitterness toward Austin Allen for the two losses and is looking forward to playing with the quarterback brothers at Arkansas.
"They're obviously both very good quarterbacks," Kraus said. "I mean, they're talented, they both led their teams to state championship games. So obviously they are talented and it's pretty cool that they are at Arkansas, continuing their football careers there.
"I think they both have a lot of potential, but it's just been a bit of a learning process with the new system. I'm looking forward to going in and helping them out as much as I can and learning the offense from them. I think it will be a lot of fun."
When Kraus steps onto the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, he will rejoin his former high school offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Barry Lunney Jr. left the Tigers following the 2012 season to join Bret Bielema's staff at Arkansas.
"Mine and Coach Lunney Jr.'s relationship goes back to when I was a freshman in high school," Kraus said. "When he went to Arkansas, I was really happy for him.
"He always told me, when he was at Bentonville, that I had a chance to play football at the next level. When Arkansas offered me and he was on the coaching staff, I got really excited. We already had chemistry and I respected him as a coach.
"Plus, he played at Arkansas and he knows what he is doing. We have a good relationship and I am really looking forward to going down there and working with him again. I think he will make all the tight ends that come through him, really good players."
Arkansas likely will not lack personnel at the tight end position over the next few years. Freshman Hunter Henry is the Razorbacks' second-leading receiver with 23 receptions for 368 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, Arkansas should return Mitchell Loewen and Jeremy Sprinkle next season and Kraus and Plantation (Fla.) tight end Ravian Pierce are committed as well.
Like Pierce, however, Kraus still sees the tight end being used enough for everyone to get on the field on a Bielema-coached team.
"I always knew that Coach B was into using tight ends, ever since his days at Wisconsin," he said. "He always loved the ground-and-pound game and he lined up a lot of tight ends on the field at times.
"Almost all of his offensive sets are going to have at least one tight end, so obviously he likes his tight ends, so I'm looking forward to going out there and being part of that and being part of an offense that uses a lot of tight ends, which will allow me to be on the field a lot."
Bielema has often said he wants players who are "buying in" to the change of culture at Arkansas and Kraus has done just that.
"I think we have the talent and potential from our recruiting class and I think Coach B's system is going to work," Kraus said. "I think Arkansas just needs to adjust to the new program, to the new coaching staff and everything.
"I think once the right players are in, Arkansas will be on the up and up and we can turn this program around. I believe in the players and the coaching staff and in a couple years, Arkansas will be back, battling at the top of the SEC."
Kraus to join former foes at Arkansas
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