One of last season's signature moments for Arkansas freshman offensive lineman Dan Skipper was when he got in the face of Ole Miss celebrated freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
Nkemdiche had tried to intimidate Razorback quarterback Brandon Allen with a push after a play was over, something that drew the ire of Skipper (6-10, 315), who then pushed the Rebels' star.
Nkemdiche pushed back, knocking Skipper down, getting a personal foul penalty and ejected from the game.
"No one is going to mess with my guys, especially my quarterback," Skipper said. "They know I have got their back and if someone messes with them, they are going to have to deal with me."
Skipper played in all 12 games and both he and fellow freshman Denver Kirkland (6-5, 345) both started the final 8 games of the season.
"I learned a lot and feel like I got better as the year went along, getting use to the physicalness of the college game and how guys go about trying to do things against you," Skipper said. "I think Denver and I are going to both be better this year because of getting thrown into the fire last season.
"I know I feel more comfortable at practice and I feel stronger," Skipper added. "I am more physically ready to compete."
Arkansas, off this week for spring break, put the pads on in its third spring practice last Thursday.
It was something that Skipper welcomed.
"We are not a bunch out here to be a bunch of sissies," Skipper said. "We are going to hit each other. We are going to be smart in how we do it, but it is not out there playing patty cake."
"You like to see what everyone is made of," Skipper said. "We like to strap it up and see where you are going with it."
He is excited about what this season's offense can accomplish even with the loss of All-American center Travis Swanson.
"I think we are really going to come together as an offensive line as all of us are a year older and have experience of playing in the SEC now," Skipper said. "We'll miss Travis - who was a great player and leader – but the rest of us will be better and that will help.
"I think we have Brandon healthy now and he is going to show what he has and we have three good tailbacks and some talented wide receivers," Skipper said. "I really like what I am seeing right now."
Skipper's Full Steam Ahead
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