One of the more entertaining things about Arkansas’ football season last year was the emergence of both the play and personality of offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola.
Tretola and the Razorbacks even started a mock Heisman Trophy campaign - complete with a video - after the big man tossed a touchdown pass on a fake field goal in Arkansas’ 45-17 win over UAB.
He has filmed another video for this month’s Hogspys Award Banquet, which will be held April 22th and hosted by ESPN’s Dari Nowkhah and the Golf Channel’s Lisa Cornwell.
“The Heisman campaign has stopped, but it was fun while it lasted,” Tretola said after Tuesday’s spring practice. “It will air at the Hogspys.
“That is going to be exciting. You thought the first one was interesting, wait until this second one is on air. There is no dancing in this one, just a lot of funny moments.”
Those in attendance at that event or the Razorbacks’ Red-White scrimmage on April 25 will see a smaller Tretola.
The 6-foot-5 senior-to-be weighed 370 pounds when he arrived on campus last season, but now is around 322.
“It is a 180-degree turn,” Tretola said. “Obviously I came in huge. It is a lot harder moving like that and you get tired a lot faster.
“Now being so much lighter, reps are easier, weight (lifts) going up because I am more explosive and able to do it quicker. It is definitely a turnaround.”
He is getting a first-hand look at the Arkansas defensive line, including freshman Hjalte Froholdt (6-5, 295) and holdovers such as Taiwan Johnson and DeMarcus Hodge.
“Froholdt is obviously a freak - a big, strong kid,” Tretola said. “Taiwan is obviously solid even though he made the move. He is handling the three technique great.
“Hodge is the one that is kind of rising up. When he goes, he goes. He is a big boy, he is heavy and he is low.
“The whole D-line is really starting to find the mesh and they are flying around.”
He chose not to answer on who gives him the most trouble.
“I can’t admit that,” Tretola said.
Tretola may have come in heavy last August, but he also came in confident and quickly began to lose weight while vaulting himself into a starting guard spot.
He played in all 13 games and started the last 11.
“To be completely honest with you, the confidence just goes back to how I was raised,” Tretola said. “I was told that ‘if you don’t believe you can do it, you are not going to be able to do it.’
“Obviously you have got to find a happy medium with that. You can’t go out there be the cockiest person, but you have got to know and you have got to believe in yourself and can rock and roll with the best of them.”
The Arkansas offensive line is now made up of juniors Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper, seniors Tretola and Mitch Smothers as well as sophomore-to-be Frank Ragnow.
“Obviously, it’s the experience,” Tretola said. “Guys getting used to each other, guys being able to take reps with each other day in and day out, next to each other and knowing what the other guy on the left or right of you is doing at all times.
“With time, obviously that gets better and today was a great example of us just really meshing together.”
Kirkland, Skipper and Ragnow have all embraced position switches.
“I think it is going great,” Tretola said. “Denver hoped out to (left) tackle with no problem, Skip was already at tackle, he just moved to the right side so it is more of a getting used to thing and he is feeling good.
“Frank is a freak athlete so you put him anywhere on the line and he is going to be good to go. Obviously me and Mitch are at home where we were last year and I think it has worked out great.”
The current second group includes redshirt freshman Brian Wallace as well as a trio of freshman that just enrolled in January in Jalen Merrick, Joshua Allen and Zach Rogers.
“What I will say is that I don’t know how well I would be doing if I was an 18-year-old kid just getting thrown into spring ball,” Tretola said.
“And those kids are outstanding. Jalen, Josh, Zach - they work their tails off every day and they are getting better every single day.”
Sebastian Tretola tossed a touchdown pass last season
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