Youngblood Getting Acclimated To New Position

FAYETTEVILLE — After sprinting off the line of scrimmage, Jim Youngblood hit a fullback, ran past a pair of overturned garbage cans and then caught a pass across the middle of the field.

The Arkansas redshirt freshman made a few more catches, worked on his blocking and spent Tuesday trying to become acclimated to lining up a few feet from the quarterback instead of actually being under center.

Youngblood has been a tight end for nearly a week now, and though he's still learning the proper way to block, he admitted he's enjoying his new position. After all, it gives him a better chance to get on the field than when he was a quarterback buried on Arkansas' depth chart.

"Just any way that I can contribute, I'm a gamer. I like to be out there under the lights," Youngblood said. "If this will help me get out there, that's what I'll do."

Youngblood said the idea of him moving to tight end came about after he talked with Arkansas quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee one night last week. The quarterback expressed how he'd be willing to do whatever it took to play, even if that meant changing positions.

It didn't take long to envision Youngblood as a tight end.

At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, the Camden native has a body that appears suited to grow into the position. As a former quarterback, Youngblood knows the different passing routes that a tight end runs.

And after losing sophomore Chris Gragg to a season-ending ankle injury, Razorbacks coaches have taken a look at a number of players to provide depth at tight end. Like Youngblood, freshman Colton Nash has switched positions, going from defensive end to tight end.

"It's interesting for a quarterback coming over and playing a physical position like tight end," Arkansas starting tight end D.J. Williams said of Youngblood. "The good thing that Jim has going for him is his athleticism. He's very athletic.

"You can see it in his routes, and even though he's got a ways to go with the blocking game, he's got good hips and that's huge for when it comes to blocking people bigger than you."

Youngblood redshirted last season and entered preseason camp as Arkansas' No. 3 quarterback. But it became apparent that he was losing ground to the other quarterbacks when freshman Brandon Mitchell and sophomore Nick Petrino — Bobby Petrino's son — began taking snaps from him in practice.

Youngblood saw limited action in Arkansas' first full scrimmage on Aug. 15, unofficially completing 5 of 9 for 58 yards with the third-team offense. A few days later, he practiced for the first time at tight end.

"I think he's got a chance to help us there. He's got a lot to learn; he's got a long ways to go," Bobby Petrino said. "He's never done it before, but he's very eager, he's got a great attitude about it and he wants to get on the field as soon as he can."

Youngblood admitted there weren't too many opportunities when he needed to block as a quarterback. He's still learning that part of being a tight end, but he's eager to play after facing the possibility of spending another season on the sidelines.

"I'm enjoying (tight end). I got a lot to learn. I feel like there's a lot about the blocking and the scheme of things that I got to learn," Youngblood said. "... But anyway I can contribute and get on the field, I'm just looking to learn quick and be out there."

So does he mind the hitting that comes with playing tight end?

"Oh Lord no, as a quarterback I always like to run over people," Youngblood said. "So I don't mind hitting at all."



PROFILE

Jim Youngblood

Age: 19.

Class: Redshirt freshman.

Height: 6-foot-2. WEIGHT: 225 pounds.

Hometown: Camden.

Notable: Youngblood was considered one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks coming out of Camden-Fairview High last year. … He practiced with Arkansas' scout team while redshirting last season. He entered preseason camp as the No. 3 quarterback behind projected starter Ryan Mallett and backup Tyler Wilson, but he decided last week to move to tight end in the hopes of getting some playing time as a redshirt freshman.

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