Grant Freeman came to the University of of Arkansas as a 6-foot-7, 244-pound tight end from Paris buried on the depth chart, but look at him now.
Freeman is a first-team tackle, right at 300 pounds and showing no fear.
"His confidence has really grown," Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino said. "The biggest thing about Grant is he took the winter and spring and said 'I'm not going to just hang around and be everyone's buddy. I'm going to turn into a football player.
"Now he looks over there and lines up, and it's not a big deal to him that he's going against (Jake) Bequette, and he's going against A.D. (Adrian Davis), and he's going against (Damario) Ambrose," Petrino added. "Where last year, even in the spring, he would look over there and get nervous and not trust his technique. "Now he's in a position where his confidence allows him to trust his technique."
"I just need to get in there and do what I can do with the opportunity I've been given," Freeman said. "It has been a long journey, and the main thing is we had a couple of guys that were banged up a little bit, nothing serious. We've got to get those guys back in here."
Freeman has taken the opportunity with an injury to Ray Dominguez to take control of a starting tackle spot.
"It has been a long journey, but the main thing is that we had a couple guys that were banged up a little bit – nothing serious – and needed to heal up to the fullest extent," Freeman said. "I just needed to get in there and do what I need to do with the opportunity I have been given. It feels good."
He got up over 300 pounds this summer and has stayed around that throughout camp.
"I weighed in at 299 this morning and I have been holding that pretty strong all through camp," Freeman said.
Freeman is getting good feedback from Arkansas offensive line coach Mike Summers.
"He really likes the way I have come out and worked better and seems to him like I have a better work ethic," Freeman said. "There are still a lot of technical aspects that I need to get better at and there is a lot of things I need to do. But as far as knowing the offense better and coming out and playing harder, that has been a big thing for me."
Freeman had one of the highlight plays during Saturday's scrimmage when he pulled out to the left and took out two defenders on a screen play that sprung Dennis Johnson for a touchdown.
"The main thing is that I was just going for the first guy, my guy and I just happened into another guy and they both happen to fall over me," Freeman said. "it wasn't anything I had planned, but I saw the opportunity and layed out there and it turned out good."
While he wanted to play tight end, he found out that it takes more than brawn to be an offensive lineman.
"I really didn't realize how smart offensive linemen have to be," Freeman said. "They have to know a lot of stuff and it has taken me awhile to get used to that. You have to work as a unit as the other four guys. It's just taken awhile to get used to that."
Still he wouldn't mind one of those tackle eligible plays when he gets to haul in a pass in the end zone.
"That'd be great," Freeman said. "But I'm not going to be holding my breath on that. I'm just going to work getting better at my blocking and that's all I am worried about."
A New Grant
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