The Hogs have nine tight ends on roster heading into fall camp. No wonder former Hog D.J. Williams, now a reporter for Razorback Nation KNWA, recently joked with Razorback tight ends Jeremy Sprinkle and Hunter Henry that their program should be re-branded “Tight End U.”
In years past, high regarded true freshmen like Austin Cantrell and four-star Will Gragg would have had to play right away. With the position’s extreme current depth, that won’t be necessary in 2015. To learn from Henry, arguably the nation’s best tight end, has been “a tremendous honor,” Gragg recently told Pat Jenkins of ESPN WPS. With the luxury to watch and learn, the younger ends “are just all taking it in, taking in what him and Jeremy [Sprinkle] have to tell us with blocking techniques and all the routes. We’re just grateful for the the opportunity to play under those guys,” said Gragg, a Pine Bluff native.
In the excerpts below, Gragg also talks about how his summer and the difference between Bret Bielema and Bobby Petrino, who coached his older brother Chris Gragg:
On why he chose to attend Arkansas despite other offers from top programs:
It’s home. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else other than Arkansas, with my brother being here, my cousin Jarius Wright playing here. Just the different influences. I’ve been up here since I was in the sixth grade learning from guys – Kniles Davis, Cobi Hamilton, even catching passes from Ryan Mallett in the sixth grade. It’s just always been in my blood and I just want to make the state happy.
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On how his first summer of training for college ball has gone:
It’s a great feeling. Spent the off season with Coach Herb, helped me redefine my body. Got stronger, bigger, stronger, faster, all those things. Now, going over to playbook during the spring. Just helped me out a great deal with the summer practice. It gave a leg up on knowing the plays and things that sort. I’m really just reiterating what playbook does and the techniques and things and things I need to use.
On the difference Petrino and Bielema:
[Chris Gragg] says it’s complete difference. He says Coach B is more laid back and he does things the way he wants to do it. Coach Petrino was a more intense guy. You know how Coach Petrino does, but yeah, he says a big difference and he says we have it way better than they did.
On Chris Gragg’s take on Bielema’s offense and how he has helped Will learn:
He says we don’t air it out like they did. We run more pro-style, tight end things that he’s seeing now. He will come in our meetings, he will tell us, “Oh, we’re doing that now [with] the Buffalo Bills.” He says that we have an advantage over what he had… He’s teaching me techniques and stuff I learned at a early age that they’re still doing up here. It’s a great honor and I’m grateful that he can be there every step of the way if I’m in trouble, if I have anything that I don’t understand with the playbook, I can call him right away.
Little bro isn’t the only one benefitting:
Jeremy Sprinkle was mentored by Chris Gragg in his first year. Now Sprinkle is a mentor for new Hog TE, Will Gragg. pic.twitter.com/ELWj38XPSG
— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) August 10, 2015
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