LITTLE ROCK — Prepared to document Grady Ollison’s body-building diet, his breakfast menu sidetracked the plan.
Six-egg omelet, Arkansas’ right tackle said matter-of-factly. From there, he mentioned mid-morning snack, two sandwiches — pretty sure he said ham or turkey — for lunch, heavy on the carbs and protein in the evening. But, six-egg omelet? Big on hard-boiled eggs, I might down a half-dozen over three days.
Ollison’s intake is only a starting point, but those who have seen him say he now looks the part of an offensive tackle in the Southeastern Conference. Ollison’s recitation of his menu included large and numerous helpings of working out with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert — a target for Bret Bielema as soon as he took the Arkansas job.
In November 2011, Bielema and Wisconsin almost lost Herbert to a “very rich school in the South,” before his salary was bumped from $75,800 to $200,000. “Ben’s been probably, since I’ve been here, one of the biggest impacts on our football team,” Bielema said at the time.
At Arkansas, Herbert is making $300,000, up $100,000 from his predecessor.
A Herbert disciple, Ollison stressed hydration. “You can eat all you want. If you don’t hydrate well, it don’t do you any good,” said the 6-foot-5 sophomore from Malvern, parroting Herbert’s teachings.
When Ollison left Fayetteville for summer break, he weighed 270. When fall practice began, he was 305.
Ollison, Bielema said, “looks like a different human being.” Watching individual drills with the offensive line, “they were doing some combo blocks and you could just see the power that he has there,” Bielema said. “We all knew he was a great athlete. I know Sam Pittman is a good o-line coach, so hopefully that’s a tandem that keeps getting together.”
Soon after the 2012 season began, Ollison worked some at fullback because of injuries to Kiero Small and Kody Walker, while also practicing in the offensive line. His forte was defense in high school, but Ollison did not buck Bobby Petrino’s early decision to move him to offense. “Me being born and raised in Arkansas, it is every little boy’s dream to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks,” he said. The position is immaterial, he said.
At Malvern, he was in the offensive line when needed. He also lined up some at tight end and fullback, even did some kicking in junior varsity games because the regular kicker was a senior. He might have touched the ball a couple of times at fullback as a sophomore, he said.
He didn’t mind that, even in practice, Arkansas never ran a play for the fullback when he was at the position. “In my opinion, I am not meant to be a ball carrier,” he said.
There is no carryover from fullback to tackle, he said. “Once you move to a position … you erase the other technique out of your head,” Ollison said. “There is nothing like old school, smash-mouth football.”
Spoken like a true offensive lineman.
The onus is on Ollison and his running mates to create some holes for the anticipated power running game while giving Brandon Allen time to throw. Allen was brilliant in Saturday’s scrimmage, completing 16 of 17, but such numbers are taken with a grain of salt because Allen’s protection against the rush included a green jersey.
Under similar circumstances, Tyler Wilson completed 111-of-145 for 1,593 yards with no interceptions during scrimmages in the spring of 2012.
Maybe the best center in the league, Travis Swanson is surrounded by inexperience. Ollison’s first start will be Aug. 31. Next to him, guard Brey Cook has started six games in two years. On the left side senior tackle David Hurd started 11 games last year and one in previous years and guard Mitch Smothers had four starts in 2011 before redshirting last year.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.