With the Hogs kicking off fall camp in roughly a week, there are a handful of starting spots that are still up for grabs. The two position battles in the offensive line – center and left guard – will be dominating much of the discussion the next few weeks, and rightfully so.
None of the veterans – Luke Charpentier, Mitch Smothers or Grady Ollison – took control of those two spots in the spring, leaving the door wide open for newcomers Cameron Jefferson, Sebastian Tretola, and even true freshman Frank Ragnow.
Continuity and familiarity is such a big component to elite offensive line play, that it’s very important that o-line coach Sam Pitman finds a cohesieve unit quickly. Something to keep a close eye on as the Razorbacks travel to Auburn August 30…just 34 days from today.
Of all of the candidates, Jefferson looks like the best bet to win the job at guard. A team captain and three year starter for UNLV, Jefferson (6-6, 320) chose to transfer for his senior year after the Rebels were put on APR probabation for 2014. He and Tretola are not yet on campus, both finishing up classes at UNLV and Iowa Western CC.
Linemen Cameron Jefferson and Sebastian Tretola still aren’t on campus. But Bielema remains hopeful both are here sometime in the next week.
— Robbie Neiswanger (@NWARobbie) July 25, 2014
The more desperate situation appears to be at center though, where Tretola – who has never played center at any level – will vie with Charpentier and Smothers. That speaks volumes.
Tretola started four games for Nevada two years ago before transferring to junior college last year. At 6-4, 315 Tretola is athletic and showed good quickness playing tackle last season. In the SEC though, he projects inside at guard. Pitman was hoping to ‘ease him into the center position’, but that sounds like a luxury the Hogs won’t get to enjoy.
Flying a bit under the radar are true freshman Ragnow (6-6, 291) and redshirt freshman Reeve Koehler (6-4, 340). A pair of 4-star recruits, Ragnow (center) and Kohler (guard) could be in the mix. Ragnow would probably benefit by a redshirt year, and Kohler is coming off a knee injury suffered during his first year at Arkansas.
Solidifying these two spots has got to be priority one for this offense in the fall camp. Being able to move the ball on the ground and control the clock is a must as the Hogs face three very fast paced offenses in Auburn, Texas Tech and Texas A&M in the first five weeks of the season.