While some thought that the center position for the University of Arkansas would be handled almost exclusively again by starter Seth Oxner this season, that might not be the case.
Redshirt freshmen Travis Swanson (6-5, 305) has forced himself into the picture with Oxner (6-4, 315) after a solid spring, summer and now fall camp performance.
"Personally, I think I have been working my butt off all the whole summer and I kind of had the mentality that if I did it hard enough that they would give me the opportunity and they have," Swanson said.
Swanson, a Houston native, said he and Oxner are getting about equal snaps with the first-team offense.
"I would say that me and Ox are about splitting it half-and-half right now," Swanson said. "…They brought me out with the newcomers those first four practices and after those four days - when the team came together – that is when we started splitting half-and-half," Swanson said.
He makes no bones about the fact that he wants to be the starter when the season opener rolls around against Tennessee Tech on Sept. 4.
"Hopefully that is what I am trying to do," Swanson said. "But it's a process and that is what I am trying to do."
The groundwork for that was laid in the summer during his individual workouts and also with the offensive guys when they got to gather for voluntary skeleton practices.
" A lot of agility work, a lot of hip mobility," Swanson said. "Just things to help me run and conditioning and things like that…We had skelly and 7-on-7 and they had me and Ox and the rest of the centers doing the snapping maybe twice a week," Swanson said.
Center was something that was foreign to Swanson upon his arrival at Arkansas.
"I played a guard all throughout high school and then get here and they tell me they want me to play center," Swanson said. "I was excited about the shot, but I knew I had a lot of learning to do because you have to know all the spots on the offensive line.
"It didn't click with me at first, but it is really something that I have taken to now and feel good about where I am headed," Swanson added.
"We kind of thought he would be a good player after watching him last year," McGee said. "We knew he was really athletic. He wasn't big enough at the time, but he spent a lot of time this summer getting himself bigger and stronger. He is close to 300 now.
"We feel good about where he is, but he has a long way to go because at that position there is going to be a big guy on you snap in and snap out," McGee added. "We have competition there no doubt."
Swanson had the opportunity to be work this spring under new offensive line coach Chris Klenakis and feels it has been a positive for him.
"He has been telling me that I have been progressing every since he got here in the spring semester," Swanson said. "I went through spring ball with him and he's just helped me make a big jump."
He certainly got an education as a rookie.
"It seems like all the freshmen get sort of shell-shocked," Swanson said. "You don't know what to expect. But two-a-days roll around and you think I'm in condition and I know what's about to happen.
"Then you go up against Malcolm Sheppard and Adrian Davis and you think ‘I am out of my league,'" Swanson said. "Those guys were tough and I just had to learn from them and try to get better every day."
Swanson admits he is excited to be working with Razorback starting quarterback Ryan Mallett, the preseason All-SEC quarterback and a likely early first-round NFL draft choice next spring.
"It's a big honor and I am very humble about it because knowing his potential, where he could go, where he could end up down the road," Swanson said. "I can say I snapped for that guy and he helped me out as much as he could and that means a lot to me."
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