There seems very little doubt that if Joey Crossland were playing in tonight's Arkansas Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Game at Bud Walton Arena that he would have some impact.
Not because he's a basketball player, but because the former Russellville offensive lineman and soon-to-be University of Arkansas freshman is now a 6-foot-6, 335-pound man of muscle.
He's put on 40 pounds since playing his last high school game as a 6-6, 295-pounder and probably could just stand in the lane and put fear in those who might think about driving to the hoop.
"As you can see, it's not fat," Crossland said. "I am very happy with how I am looking right now and how strong I feel and what kind of shape I am in. I have been working so hard on the weights and conditioning.
"I haven't maxed recently, but I remember during the season I went to bench 300 benched and the most I had ever done that was twice," Crossland added. "The other day I was by myself and got some stranger to spot me and lifted 315 six times in a row the other day. I am driven."
Crossland, who will start at left tackle for the West team in Friday night's 7 p.m. All-Star Football Game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, is one of four offensive line signees that will be UA freshmen this season.
When veteran Matt Gilbow was dismissed from the team on Tuesday, it meant that Crossland, Colin Tucker, Jose Valdez and Michael Aguirre all were afforded the opportunity for more possible playing time.
"Everybody has said they are going to redshirt me, but (UA assistant) Coach (Roy) Wittke said it is not predetermined," Crossland said. "They have told me to come up here and show up and if you are good enough you get on the bus.
"I do the core lifts and all the lifts that are required," Crossland continued. "I do more than what is required because I want to be as ready as I can be."
Crossland won't report until August as he will continue to work at a furniture store in Russellville where he is seeing the extra weight work pay off.
"When I first started working there, they would want me to pick up a big mattress and it was hard," Crossland said. "But now my arm strength has gotten so much better that I just toss it around like it's nothing right now."
He showed up on Sunday for All-Star week committed to learning.
"We've had a whole lot of little study groups and I've been taking notes," Crossland said. "I've learned a lot and I think we have all come together. I think we are going to play really well."
Crossland made an impression at Arkansas' camp last summer and was rewarded with a scholarship offer - something he had before ever playing over on the offensive line after playing on the defensive line his first two years.
"I feel like I did pretty good this season," Crossland said. "I really worked on my fundamentals. As the season went along I got a lot more comfortable when we were running the ball. Everything just started clicking, clicking, clicking after everything was going too fast at first."
He has heard that he may be tried at both tackle and guard when he reports to Arkansas.
"Whatever they need, wherever they need, I'll be glad to try and help out," Crossland said. "Like I said earlier, I am driven and hungry and just want to get with it."
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