For the second consecutive year, one of Arkansas’ heralded offensive line recruits will miss most of his senior season because of an injury.
Urbandale (Iowa) four-star offensive lineman Jake Heinrich - who committed to Arkansas in July - hasn’t played in the J-Hawks' last four games because of a sprain in his forearm. The injury is expected to keep him out of the rest of year.
“It’s tough,” Heinrich said. “I was really looking forward to giving it one last shot at a state title with my teammates I’ve played with for years and grown up with.”
The injury occurred in practice about four weeks ago, when Heinrich and a teammate were doing a drill with a two-man blocking sled.
When the other player adjusted his hand, the sled fell and twisted Heinrich’s wrist awkwardly.
“It’s in the forearm down by my hand,” Heinrich said. “If you’re karate chopping down, the bone underneath your forearm is your ulna. That basically was more or less pulled apart from the radius, which is the other one.”
He was put in a cast, which will be removed Wednesday. Then, he’ll wear a brace for a month before going through about another month of non-contact drills.
While the injury is a setback, Heinrich said he doesn’t think it’ll affect him long-term. He just needs to be patient, which is hard for a player who started 31 straight games dating back to his freshman season.
“(The doctors) said this isn’t something you really want to push because if you handle it properly, it’s nothing to worry about, which is what we’re doing of course,” Heinrich said, “but if you don’t and you force it and reinjure it, you could be in trouble.”
If everything goes according to the current timetable, he is slated to return to action in the middle of December, which will allow him to participate in the Semper Fi Bowl and International Bowl.
In the weeks since the injury, Heinrich has talked to Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman, as well as head coach Bret Bielema.
“They just want to make sure I recover well,” Heinrich said. “They’re not worried about it. Nothing has changed regarding my status. I’m still 110 percent committed to Arkansas and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
That is good news for the Razorbacks, especially considering the de-commitment of Trophy Club (Texas) Byron Nelson four-star offensive lineman Kellen Diesch. Heinrich is Arkansas’ only offensive line commit for the 2016 class.
Last year’s class featured four offensive linemen, including Zach Rogers, who broke his ankle in the third game of the 2014 season and missed the rest of his senior year. Today, he is listed as the backup center behind Mitch Smothers.
Heinrich said he had not heard about Rogers’ injury, but he could use that as further inspiration for his situation.
However, he probably doesn’t need any more inspiration, as his eyes are already focused on making a full recovery.
“I don’t like to be negative,” Heinrich said. “I’m just keeping a positive attitude toward the whole situation. Everything happens for a reason and I’ll be back 100 percent. I plan on making a great recovery.
“I’m taking steps toward that already and I know for a fact that I’ll come back stronger than ever.”