Sizzling Todd

Fresh off some impressive starts on Sunday, Arkansas junior pitcher Jess Todd will now be moved up to Saturday this weekend as the Razorbacks host LSU at Baum Stadium in a three-game series.

In an exaggerated case of reality, if Arkansas junior right-hander Jess Todd had a nickel for every sentence he's completed in an interview, he'd have change for a dime.

He simply edits his conversations before all the words roll off his bashful tongue.

Frankly, he's too shy, too modest, to accept celebrity status.

Clearly, no one can ever accuse him of being a blabbermouth.

"Nope," Todd said. "That's not me."

This soft-spoken pitcher with God-given talent from Kilgore, Texas, finally and suddenly -- depending upon who one talks to -- has become a Sunday savior, although he doesn't get his pitch counts on stone tablets but is good enough to split the Red Sea with one nasty slider.

"I wouldn't say it's pressure," Todd said. "If people want to call me a bulldog ... that's what you want to see, someone to go out there and shut the door and come out and seal a weekend series up ... well."

This weekend, however, Todd gets a Saturday start for No. 7 Arkansas against LSU in Baum Stadium.

It's a change, but the 6-foot, 213-pound transfer from Navarro (Texas) College is used to change which includes a lot of zip codes.

More on that later.

Todd moves into the Saturday spot in the Razorbacks' rotation this week after back-to-back complete games at Georgia and Auburn. He is 6-2 with a 5-1 mark in Southeastern Conference games. Todd has struck out 75 in 58 2/3 innings of work with just 17 walks.

He has allowed only three earned runs over the last two starts which translates into a 1.50 earned run average.

Todd changed his mind about pitching for Texas Tech out of high school and wanted to transfer to Texas, but Texas Tech wouldn't release him from his scholarship.

He wound up pitching in Corsicana, Texas, for Navarro College and finally ended up in Fayetteville.

"It was a route I don't want anyone to go through, that's for sure," Todd said. "Not knowing two weeks before school started where I was going to be, whether I was going to be in California, Arizona, Florida ... I didn't know until 10 days before school started."

Razorbacks catcher Brian Walker is thankful for Todd's arrival.

"We thought, once we got him, finally in the fall, we were excited he was going to be here," Walker said. "He's proved he was worth all the hype and excitement. You know, he's been the guy who's been there for us, pitched some big games and made a huge impact on this team.

"For two Sundays in a row, Jess has thrown complete games in must-win games. Championships are won on Sundays.

"But we feel very confident he can win a game on any day."

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn nodded.

"He's thrown two tremendous outings (on Sundays), both on the road, both when the series was tied at 1-to-1" Van Horn said. "He's come through for us no matter when it was."

Todd started the season as a closer but when Shaun Seibert required Tommy John surgery, his role changed.

"I wouldn't say it was that hard of a switch since I was a starter in junior college," Todd said. "The main thing was to get my legs going and being used to going longer."

Todd, despite all his travels in his abbreviated college career, still holds a soft spot in his heart for his hometown.

"I've got a lot of people from Kilgore coming up this weekend to watch me," said Todd, a former middle linebacker in high school. "Kilgore people, they'll back you 100 percent in football, baseball, anything. It's a real athlete-friendly town.

"It's awesome."

Well spoken for someone who doesn't talk much.


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