Long before he entered the transfer portal and landed at Arkansas, Andreas Paaske was not a fan of the Razorbacks, to put it lightly.
No, not those in Fayetteville. Or even those at Arkansas High in Texarkana. The unique mascot is also shared by the Triangle Razorbacks, a football team in Denmark that was one his main rivals while he played for the Søllerød Gold Diggers.
“I hated the Razorbacks in Denmark,” Paaske said with a laugh. “We do not like those guys. … It’s going to be a little weird. It’s a whole different league, too, so it’s a lot I have to get used to, for sure.”
Paaske (pronounced POE-ska) admitted that he had several friends who played for the Razorbacks in Denmark, though, and now he’s set to make new friends with the Razorbacks in the SEC, as the 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end transferred in from Eastern Michigan this winter.
He recently chatted with Best of Arkansas Sports and said Northwest Arkansas’ charm did a number on him.
“I really like nature and it seems like there is a lot of stuff to do outside of football here,” Paaske said.
Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman was also a factor in Paaske choosing to continue his career in Fayetteville, as he focused on more than just his skills as a football player.
“He told me that he liked my film, he liked how aggressive I am and he thinks my potential is really, really high and I’ve barely touched my ceiling,” Paaske said. “But mostly what we talked about was the culture of the team and what we want to accomplish at Arkansas, which sounded really, really good to me.”
Projected Role with Arkansas Football
Looking at the stat sheet, nothing about Andreas Paaske’s numbers is going to jump off the page, but with Luke Hasz and Ty Washington still in the fold, it’s doubtful that the Arkansas football staff brought him in to set school records for receiving by a tight end.
His blocking acumen is what the coaches undoubtedly like, as Paaske described himself as “extremely physical.” If Arkansas wants to get back to power running, especially on the goal line, Paaske’s tools should be an asset.
While at Eastern Michigan, about 62.9% of his total snaps were as a run blocker, which is almost the exact same career percentage as Nathan Bax, who exhausted his eligibility as a super senior this season.
“I’m going to be a guy they can rely on (to block),” Paaske said. “Let’s say it’s third-and-short, second-and-short and we want to pound the ball. He told me he wanted me because he knew I could block.”
Paaske’s twin brother actually played on the Danish national basketball team, so athleticism runs in the family and that’s something he hopes to show in Fayetteville.
Playing in a Bobby Petrino offense will probably give Paaske the chance to catch more balls than he would have in an offense run by, say, Kendal Briles or even former offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
It should also give him a chance to catch more than the 14 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns he had over the last few years at Eastern Michigan, whose offense was built around receivers and didn’t particularly utilize tight ends.
“I think a bonus was that I’m a really good pass catcher, too,” Paaske said. “I have a really great ability to catch the ball and get open on routes. That is something they saw on my film, too. Maybe I didn’t have that many catches, but every single route I’m running, I get open. That was a big reason for them to bring me in.”
All of those things are why tight ends coach Morgan Turner was extremely excited to recruit Paaske once he found out he was in the portal, and Paaske likewise is excited to play for him.
“The coaching staff had a huge influence; they showed a lot of energy, passion and honesty, which were some of the main things I was looking for in a program, coming from EMU,” Paaske said. “The support of the student-athletes also had a huge influence on my decision to come here.”
With the change from Enos to Petrino, Paaske said the coaching staff told him not to bother watching tape of last season and he doesn’t yet have a playbook. Instead, he has taken it upon himself to study what Petrino’s offenses have done at recent stops – Texas A&M and Missouri State – to pass the time until he arrives on campus.
Connection to Former Hog
Andreas Paaske is the “new” Dane in Fayetteville. That’s because Arkansas actually had another one not long ago, as Hjalte Froholdt starred for the Razorbacks from 2015-18.
Originally a defensive tackle, he flipped sides of the ball and is now in the NFL as the starting center for the Arizona Cardinals, where he helps protect Kyler Murray.
Danish players are uncommon, but not unheard of in the United States; Paaske actually had a Zoom call with Froholdt last year.
“I never got the chance to meet him in person, but we talked over a Zoom call last season,” Paaske said. “Before I came here, we texted back and forth about his experience at the U of A, and he had nothing but good things to say about the football program and the academics.”
In high school, Paaske was selected as his team’s MVP in 2018 and 2019 and selected as the best player at the tight end position in Denmark.
He parlayed those accolades into a spot on Denmark’s 45-man U19 National Team roster that participated in the IFAF 2019 U19 European Championships in Bologna, Italy, where he caught eight passes for 74 yards against Team France.
Andreas Paaske Coming to Arkansas
Playing against Akron, Ball State and Northern Illinois is obviously nothing to sneeze at (even Arkansas has lost to Toledo), but the SEC is a different animal and playing against those teams, especially with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas, was attractive to Paaske.
“I am grateful to be competing and learning from a talented tight end room and coach,” Paaske said. “The competition we are going to be playing against is fierce, but it’s why you put on the pads.”
Eastern Michigan went 6-7 in 2023, losing its bowl game 59-10 to South Alabama. But like Arkansas, it at least beat mutual opponent Kent State.
Hjalte Froholdt had success early in his Arkansas career, then had to deal with adversity as the team struggled to a 4-8 season in Bret Bielema’s last season, eerily similar to the campaign Arkansas just went through.
Obviously he didn’t portal in like Paaske is doing, but switching position groups and sides of the ball midway through his tenure with the Hogs was a major adjustment. Paaske is going through a big change of his own coming from a totally different conference way up north.
Paaske added that he hopes the transition will ultimately pay off and he can follow Froholdt’s footsteps into the NFL.
“That would be a dream come true for me.”
Transfer Portal Additions This Cycle
Here’s a list of all the players Arkansas football has added out of the transfer portal during this cycle…
- OL Keyshawn Blackstock – Michigan State
- TE Andreas Paaske – Eastern Michigan
- QB Taylen Green – Boise State
- DB Doneiko Slaughter – Tennessee
- OL Fernando Carmona – San Jose State
- K Matthew Shipley – Hawaii
- OL Addison Nichols – Tennessee
- LB Xavian Sorey Jr. – Georgia
- WR Jordan Anthony – Texas A&M
- DB Marquise Robinson – South Alabama
- RB Ja’Quinden Jackson – Utah
- DE Anton Juncaj – Albany
Andrew Hutchinson contributed to this story.
Here are some highlights of Andreas Paaske playing in Denmark, from when he originally signed with Eastern Michigan:
More coverage of Arkansas football and the transfer portal from BoAS…