Everything's Falling Into Place For Ragnow

Arkansas sophomore offensive lineman Frank Ragnow (6-5, 311) has been elevated to first team at one of the guard spots and is just one of a group of talented young guys that Razorback offensive line coach Sam Pittman has to work with this spring.

As the youngest guy on the Razorback first-team offensive line, sophomore-to-be guard Frank Ragnow (6-5, 311) is looking to the older guys as he tries to grab a stronghold at right guard.

It’s going well so far for the former Minnesota prep standout, who has been known to wear shorts during the Arkansas winter and has the respect of Razorback offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

“It’s been exciting, but it has also been a big challenge, too,” Ragnow said after Thursday’s spring practice. “Coach Pittman has helped me out a lot and I think I have come a long way this spring.

“I have been looking up to (senior guard) Sebastian Tretola (6-5, 322) because he is a good player. I have been just trying to do what he does and do the right thing.

“I am starting to get really comfortable now and I think the whole offensive line is really starting to mesh together during these last couple of practices.”

Ragnow saw action at back-up center as a true freshman, but was moved to guard as Pittman tries to get his best five on the field.

“He (Ragnow) can run, he can move, he has length and he is a really good pass protector,” Pittman said. “He has done a really nice job as have all the guys.

“All the moves that we have made, I think they have made us a little better.”

Pittman and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema moved junior-to-be Denver Kirkland (6-5, 343) from guard to left tackle and that opened up a spot for Ragnow.

He also moved left tackle Dan Skipper (6-10, 307) to right tackle.

“Coach B and I sat down about and hashed over our ideas and thought on it and this is what we came up with,” Pittman said. “We felt like we needed to give it time to work.

“We are still a little bit of a work in progress, but I think we have the right people in the right spots. In fact, I am positive of it.”

It is a combination that Pittman is pleased with to this point.

“If you are going to have success, you have got to have people that can protect the edge and Kirkland can protect the edge, Skip is going to be a better right tackle than he was a left tackle and then we are going to be able to move up because Tretola, Mitch and Frank can handle the guys inside.”

Ragnow notes there is one big change from his high school days.

“Probably pulling,” Ragnow said. “I didn’t pull in high school. Maybe like twice in the last year. So pulling has been the biggest adjustment.”

He got a few reps at center on Thursday in case he is needed there behind starter Mitch Smothers (6-3, 305) and true freshman back up Zach Rogers (6-1, 312).

“I took a couple of reps there today, but I kind of got that down toward the end of the season,” Ragnow said. “So it is kind of like just jumping on the old bike.”

Ragnow claims that he does not have a preference between the two positions.

“As long as I am out there, I don’t care,” Ragnow said.

He did make it clear that one position is tougher than the other.

“No offense to guards, but at center you have to know all the calls and you have got to tell everyone what to do,” Ragnow said. “It is a lot more difficult.”

The second-team offensive line is redshirt freshman tackles Brian Wallace (6-6, 316) and Johnny Gibson (6-4, 337) as well as Rogers and guards Jalen Merrick (6-5, 335) and Josh Allen (6-3, 309) – the latter three that are all true freshman that enrolled in January.

“The guys that is furthest ahead right now is Zach Rogers,” Pittman said. “He has picked it up. He is as fast a guy to learn as I have coached. He has been ahead of the curve the whole time that he has been here.

“Jalen Merrick has done a nice job, but he is just now getting comfortable in there yet at guard, which I think is his spot. We had him at left tackle for a week.

“Johnny Gibson has had a really nice spring. Josh has showed us what we recruited him for. He is powerful, he can run, he is quick twitch.

“The most improvement you make is between spring ball and you get back here during two-a-days (in August). I don’t know who will redshirt and who won’t.

“Right now we basically have the Fab Five – well, I can’t use that because it has been patented – but we have got five freshman along with (Marcus) Danenhauer across the two-deep.”

The fact that Rogers, Allen and Merrick are getting in a spring practice before their first season is big according to Pittman.

“I think we are really proud of those guys,” Pittman said. “We are really happy they are all here and there is a lot of talent in that room, a lot of want-to in that room.

“We recruited good kids in that room and good athletes. They have been here for 14 practices and we are in a little bit different place than we have been in the past.

“We may have had to have Merrick ready to play, we may have had to have Josh Allen ready to play in the past, but now we can develop them at a little slower pace than what we have had to do in the first two years."

Frank Ragnow

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