There is no doubt that Arkansas junior Sebastian Tretola is one massive human being, but it is also clear that his playing time is now tied to becoming less massive.
Tretola arrived just a few days before Razorback camp started and had whopping 370 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame.
That was too much – a point immediately pointed out by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema.
“I think Sebastian Tretola at right guard is a very, very good player,” Bielema said. “I said to him, 'If we can lose five pounds a week for four weeks at Auburn he could weigh 350 and that's a weight he could play very, very well. He's a very powerful and very quick twitch player.”
Tretola, working at right guard behind starter Denver Kirkland, made it to 360 by the time the first week of camp ended and has continued to shed pounds this week.
“It’s been tiring,” Tretola said. “I came in kind of heavy so I had to get used to things, get accustomed to the speed and tempo and getting back into the groove of things.
“I feel personally when I am out of football for a long time that I get an itch for it. I am just like 'I need to put pads on, I need to hit.' Getting back to that the first week was fantastic.”
There are certainly no questions about Tretola's talent.
“Coach Pittman brought me in and said if you are the player that player that I believe you are, we will play wherever we need you,” Tretola said. “ I am behind Denver right now at right guard and I am just working my tail off. I am willing to play whatever needs to be played cause at the end of the day I do think I am a player and I’ll get out there when he feels most comfortable with me.”
He played both guard and tackle during his initial college stop at Nevada and then at Iowa Western Community College.
“Tackle is fun because you get to beat up on the defensive ends,” Tretola said. “They are not as heavy as those guys inside – the big boys – but I prefer inside actually. I am a big run blocker so being inside and getting gritty, grimy and having 330 pounds just smacking each other – that’s where I like it.”
He is currently backing up Denver Kirkland at right guard, but Pittman sees him a guy he could slot in at guard, tackle or center and loves Tretola's versatility.
“That's the thing about Sebastian – he gives us a great guy to put at almost any spot on the line that we need him to work at,” Pittman said. “He is going to play and he is going to help us.”
Tretola says he is ready for any challenge.
“There is competition and I am going to keep playing hard and we’ll see how it goes,” Tretola said.
Tretola noted that he barely qualified academically to get into Nevada and then showed his immaturity by flunking out.
“I was immature, I was young, I was making dumb decisions,” Tretola said. “I went into that spring and actually messed my grades up. I was academically ineligible and it was just dumb decisions. I couldn’t practice and I was just young and stupid. I didn’t have a choice. I had to leave because I was academically ineligible.”
But he believes his time at Nevada was beneficial to him and thus doesn't look back with regrets.
“Nevada played a very crucial two years in my life, taught me a lot of things that made me the man I am now. When I got kicked out, it was a reality check because I almost didn’t make it out of high school and almost had to go to junior college out of high school.
“So I made it to Nevada barely and ended up getting kicked out still. I was like ‘what are you doing? You have got to get on the right track.’ And that really was the turning point so in the end I am extremely grateful for that really.”
Tretola was teammates at Nevada with current Razorback wideout Cody Hollister and is now a roommate with former UNLV offensive lineman Cameron Jefferson.
“That’s crazy how that happened and Cam is actually my roommate so we had to settle our UNLV-UNR(eno) beef once we met each other,” Tretola said. “They are great guys and Cam is a cool dude, too.”
Sebastian Tretola (far left) gets ready for last Saturday's scrimmage.
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