It's been a slow process to get there, but Dominique Reed said things are back to normal with his injured ankle as preparation heats up for the Liberty Bowl trip.
Players were finishing finals on Thursday, but the Hogs held a full speed practice late in the day as the game plan was coming into full view to play Kansas State in Memphis on Jan. 2. Reed said he felt good as new.
"I know there will be some soreness after the practices, but I don't really feel anything out there now," said Reed, battling a high ankle sprain that bothered him both against Mississippi State and Missouri.
Reed said Thursday was the first full practice for him since the end of the regular season.
"I think I'm going to be fine for the game after the way I felt today," Reed said. "There's been some pain and soreness. But I didn't feel it today. I am guessing it will be sore tonight. But I'm back in the groove now."
Quarterback Brandon Allen said it was the old Reed today.
"He was full speed, getting in and out of cuts with speed," Allen said. "He was real good today. Very fast. It was like he was before (the injury)."
Reed has practiced some in the last week, but only bits and pieces. He went through everything in a long, physical workout Thursday.
Reed was asked about the Kansas State defense.
"They play man, but it's man off," he said. "I think we have some things for them. I think we have some ways to attack them."
It won't be easy, Allen said.
"You see them doing a lot of the same things, but they are sound and physical," he said. "There are some teams that try to do too much and they make mistakes and give you something. You don't see them give you anything. They play hard."
Offensive guard Sebastian Tretola said he sees a sound defensive line with seniors at every spot.
"They are mature and physical," Tretola said. "I see a team that is exactly what Coach (Bret) Bielema told us it was going to be. He learned from Coach (Bill) Snyder. So I know they prepare to be physical just like we do. Our style of play is physical. That's them, too. I know it will be a battle."
Some of the high profile juniors on the team -- Alex Collins, Hunter Henry and Dan Skipper -- came to the interview room. None revealed any clues about their future. Some could declare for the NFL draft after the season. Collins said he was no closer to the decision than before some talks with Bielema.
"We've talked some and we'll talk some more," he said. "Right now, I'm focused on my classes and finals, trying to do well in them. I'll just push (the decision) back until after the bowl game."
Is there anything in his thinking that would lead to another season at Arkansas?
"Yes, there are some things," he said. "One of them is getting my degree. I'm in criminal justice. I was in broadcast journalism, but I switched. There is a heavy emphasis on getting a degree here and that's in my mind. I would need another fall."
Collins thinks the Hogs are making the best of preparations despite the loss of offensive line coach Sam Pittman, now at Georgia.
"It makes me sad for him to go," Collins said. "I had a good relationship with him. He was a funny dude. It's sad and I hope the best for us. But I don't see us missing anything right now. Yes, we have a graduate assistant (in Eric Mateos) coaching us. But it was normal out there today. We haven't dwelled on it. We moved forward.
"We've got Coach Mateos and today we added Brey Cook to help coach us. Brey makes me smile."
Tretola said, "Don't get me wrong, Coach Pittman was our guy and is amazing, but fortunately he trained us well and left a room that kows exactly what they are doing. I think you could see out there today that we just went about our work and it was a good practice."
Collins was asked if he was disappointed not to make any of the All-SEC first teams. He pointed to Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette as producing "bigger games. I had some good games, but I didn't do some of the things they did. I look at it as if to move ahead of them, you have to do something to turn some heads. I feel like a did pretty good, but they had some really good games."
Collins had nine 100-yard games. He needs one more to tie Darren McFadden's school record of 10.
"It feels good because our offense was successful," he said. "We just got better as the year went along. Our line really gave me some holes."
Tretola said it was fun at the end of the season, but he is still haunted by the misses to start the season.
"I feel like the 1-3 start is on us, the offensive line," Tretola said. "We didn't get it done in those first few games. We got together and fixed it. But I haven't forgotten those games. We had a good stretch at the end."