Ryan Sorahan is ready for spring drills.
Razorback Q&A: Quarterback Ryan Sorahan
Ever since Clint Stoerner moved on to the NFL, Houston Nutt's Hogs have been searching for an unquestioned leader to step under center and take charge. After a sensational freshman season, most experts are assuming that Sophomore Matt Jones will be the man in 2002-2003. But don't fill out those depth charts in quite yet. One player that plans on giving Jones a run for his money is sophomore Ryan Sorahan.
Last season, after engineering a last minute comeback to topple UNLV, Sorahan was entrenched as the starter for two games until injuring his back on an awkward play against Alabama. That play would be the last of the season for him. A season that began with so much promise quickly ended for Sorahan. This year Sorahan enters spring drills with a clean bill of health and a renewed desire to play the game. While Jones has been runnin' and gunnin' with the hoops squad, Ryan has been working out and spending extra time throwing with his receivers.
Sorahan possesses the size (6-4 220), speed (4.7 40-yard dash), and passing ability to lead a revamped spread offensive attack. Ryan is very competitive and even if he doesn't win the starting job, he will push Jones and the rest of the quarterbacks to be better. He hails from northern California (Where the girls are warm), but to my surprise, he didn't ride in on a surfboard wearing swim trunks and a floral shirt. I was perplexed to learn that Californians look just like Arkansans. But do they think like Arkansans? We'll find out, in this week's Q & A.
Nathan Striegler: How the heck does a California kid end up at Arkansas?
Ryan Sorahan: My first year at Junior College I didn't get recruited very hard at all during the season. In the spring some scouts came out to watch us and I got noticed so I sent out my highlight tape. Then it all happened like all at once. LSU offered me (a scholarship). USC called me. Miami (Fl.) offered me. I took my trip to LSU and I liked it so I committed to them. Arkansas called me right after that and asked me if I would come out here and look at the school. At first I told them I wasn't really interested because I had already made up my mind. But, then I figured that there was no way I would no for sure where I wanted to go until I came out here and looked at it. So I came out here and I liked it and I ended up coming here.
NS: How frustrating was it to earn the starting position and then get hurt in the Alabama game?
RS: It was one of the toughest things I've been through. It feels like everything that you worked for was for nothing. You're still part of the team but you can't do anything to help, except stand on the sidelines and cheer. I think I'm stronger because of it though.
NS: Later on when you were healthy, how difficult was it to realize that you had lost your starting job because of injury?
RS: It was hard. I keep looking back on the injury. I've played it back in my mind so many times. I wish I could go back in time and change things, but you can't live in the past. I didn't know what I could do or say to make anything different. I think that was the frustrating thing. There wasn't anything I could do, so there was a feeling of helplessness. But at the same time, I was happy because the team was doing well and that's what is important.
NS: You were granted a medical hardship for this year, so you did not use up any of your eligibility. Do you think the opportunity to get some playing time but also to sit back and observe on this level will help you in the long run?
RS: Only time will tell on that. I definitely learned a lot from watching and just kind of taking a step back from everything.
NS: Did it also put into perspective how much playing means to you?
RS: I never took anything for granted, but being in that situation really makes you realize how important it is. There were so many things I didn't realize when I was starting.
NS: Do you think people had some interesting preconceived notions about you because you are from California?
RS: I don't know. My roommate Jeb Huckaba said he thought I was gonna be this surfer with bleached blond hair saying dude every other word. He was expecting a dumb blond kinda. I think a lot of people were surprised. Everybody who meets me says I don't seem like I'm from California. I don't really know what that means though.
NS: Did you have some interesting expectations of Arkansans before you came here?
RS: I didn't know what to expect. It's definitely different.
NS: Were you surprised to see us wearing shoes and driving cars?
RS: I had a wide range of expectations. I was pretty open-minded about the whole thing.
NS: How are you approaching this season? What do you want to accomplish this year?
RS: Obviously I want to be the starting quarterback. Every quarterback does. Any competitor wants to be the starter. I think what I need to do is just work on being the best quarterback that I can possibly be. I've got to try not to let the things that people say or the hype get into my mind because there isn't anything I can do about that. I just want to focus on the things I can control.
NS: What is your best asset as a quarterback?
RS: A lot of people have talked about my size or strength, but I think my best asset is my work ethic. I think I have the ability to get better and continue to improve.
NS: How do you feel about some of the new offensive schemes that have been implemented with the option and more sprint-out passes?
RS: I feel fine doing that. I think we've been successful having the drop back passing game, the running game, and then sprinkling in some option. I'm not afraid to run the option. I'll do it to the best of my abilities.
NS: What is the stupidest question anyone has ever asked you about being from California?
RS: I don't know if this is the stupidest question, but during double-days (two-a-days) the guys would ask me outrageous questions about California like, "Do you guys have this, and do you guys have that?" So we were eating mashed potatoes during double-days and I was like, "We don't have mashed potatoes in California." A bunch of people believed it so I just kept trying to come up with ridiculous stuff like that.
NS: I recently introduced one of my friends from California to the southern tradition known as a hayride.
I CAN SEE BY THE PUZZLED LOOK ON RYAN'S FACE THAT HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. I TOOK SOME TIME TRYING TO EXPLAIN A HAYRIDE TO RYAN UNTIL I FINALLY REALIZED THAT IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, AND I GAVE UP.
NS: The media gave a great deal of attention to you changing your throwing style to a more sidearm delivery last year. What was the story behind that?
RS: (Arkansas Quarterbacks) Coach Lee really helped me with my throwing motion. He told me that he used to have a sidearm release too. He showed me some drills to get better. Once I changed my throwing motion to more over-the-top, I think I got a lot more velocity on it.
NS: What have you been focusing on in your offseason workouts?
RS: I've been working on getting stronger and faster and getting my release better. I've been doing drills that Coach Lee showed me to improve my release. Just working on consistency with the receivers. Trying to get the timing down and just trying to make each pass as perfect as I can.
NS: In the movie Remember the Titans there was a quarterback from California whose nickname was sunshine. In one scene he told his offensive lineman to let the defensive lineman through and then he threw the ball just in time to lower his shoulder and flip the oncoming defender. Have you ever thought about using that move?
RS: No but in high school it seemed like I was telling them (his offensive linemen) to let them (defensive linemen) through. I'd probably get chewed out by the coach pretty good if I ever tried that one.
NS: Most SEC linemen are probably a little too big to try that.
RS: That wouldn't be too wise of a move by me. Actually I did something like that in practice in high school. The scout team was rushing and they get in you face but your supposed to throw it anyway. Well they wouldn't let me throw it so I drilled it right into one guy's face.
NS: Ouch. What is the relationship between you and the receivers?
RS: We get along real well. I respect how hard working they are. They're always willing to stay after and work on something.
NS: What do you think of this area?
RS: It's definitely a lot different from where I'm from in California. The pace of life is so different. Everything in the bay area is so intense and hurried. Around here it seems a little bit more laid-back to me. I like it. I miss the ocean. I'm not a big surfer but I just like the ocean.
NS: And the girls on the beach.
RS: Well northern California girls aren't as good as southern California girls.
NS: It still beats Beaver Lake. What was a typical day like for you growing up?
RS: I lived up in the mountains a bit so it was too far for me to walk anywhere. I'd go to school and then after school I'd have practice of some sort. I was one of those people who was playing sports all the time. I played basketball, baseball, football, and even kickboxing for a little bit. When I'd get home there usually wasn't much I could do so I'd play with my dogs. I also had a trampoline that I would jump on and I would always pretend that was in the NFL. I could entertain myself for hours just going over situations in my mind. That was probably a lot of my childhood right there.
NS: My brother and his friends do something similar, but it involves backyard wrestling. One final question. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you?
RS: Let's see. A raft to float away on. Can I bring a person?
RS: Maybe, like a significant other.
NS: Anna Kournikova?
RS: Maybe I won't bring that raft if I've got Anna Kournikova. I'd probably want to stay. I think I'd want a spear so I could go hunting Lord of the Flies style when they hunted the pig.