HOGS: Offense, TE Harrell flourish
FAYETTEVILLE - Since last spring's practices into this August preseason, the Arkansas defense mostly has won the belt that head coach Chad Morris awards the unit he deems dominating that day's practice.
Not Monday, though. The offense got the nod and enjoyed it.
"Yes, sir, we dominated the red zone, and Coach Morris said that's our belt," senior second-year graduate transfer tight end Chase Harrell said after practice. "I scored one in the red zone."
Catching four passes for 60 yards as a reserve wide receiver last year transferring with a Kansas degree in communications, Harrell caught a touchdown during Saturday's scrimmage and again Monday. He's consistently merited Morris' praise since last spring, moving to tight end.
Though now with 245 pounds instead of 220 on his 6-4 frame, Harrell said his speed remains.
"I've always been a fast guy, but really my speed at receiver was kind of average," Harrell said. "But once they moved me to tight end, my speed kind of went up. I would say I’m catching the ball better. I love the role."
The hand-in-the-dirt blocking a defensive end is still a challenge.
"I still have a lot to work on," Harrell said. "It's a mindset. You’ve got to want to block.
"I’m more of a physical guy. I like blocking but have to work on my technique. I’d say it’s getting easier each and every day."
Harrell said his off-season move from receiver to tight end may have stemmed from a joking remark he made to tight ends coach Barry Lunney last November.
"With two weeks left in the season, I was like, ‘Hey, you want me to put my hand in the dirt," Harrell recalled. "I was just kidding, but I guess they picked up on it, and they wanted me to switch. After that he told me to just think about it. Then like two days later, I was like, ‘Yeah Coach, I want to switch."
The new position and establishing now old friends yielded a new lease on Harrell's Arkansas life.
“At first I was like an outsider," Harrell said. "I didn’t know any of the guys, and it was kind of awkward. With more time with the team, they’ve kind of accepted me, and I can call them my brothers because we’ve been working and grinding together."
Harrell said he's excited he's a father-to-be following the 2017 shooting death of his brother Cole in Houston, the Harrell's home town.
"Losing my brother is what led me to transfer," Chase said of feeling a change of locale would help him work through his emotional pain.
Now the new locale comes with a new position from which Morris expects much, starting with 2019 senior tight end C.J. O'Grady's 30 catches for 400 yards last year.
"We utilize our tight ends a lot in the passing game," Harrell said. "I feel like there will be a bunch of chances for me to step up."
While Harrell and the offense enjoyed Monday's belt, the defense determined to buckle down.
"I know today the offense won it, and it didn’t sit well with the defense," junior linebacker Grant Morgan of Greenwood said, “because that’s like our first time to give it up in a while."
HEALED AND INJURED
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols, in concussion protocol last week, practiced Monday, but freshman tight end Hudson Henry, also concussion protocol last week, was still withheld.
Possibly injured in Saturday's scrimmage (not spotted practicing Monday) were junior running back T.J. Hammonds, freshman nickel back Greg Brooks and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Nick Fulwider.
True freshman defensive end Eric Gregory appears a possible redshirt candidate after ankle surgery.