Nashville pride

Small-town dream a re­al­ity for line­man

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - BOB HOLT

The first in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers to the 2017 Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

FAYET­TEVILLE — Kirby Ad­cock re­mem­bers when La’Michael Pettway, his team­mate at Nashville High School, signed to play foot­ball for the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs in 2015.

“Know­ing he was go­ing off to play Di­vi­sion I foot­ball at Arkansas was re­ally cool,” Ad­cock said. “I thought, ‘It’d be some­thing for me to get to play there, too.’ ”

Then a high school sopho­more, the dream of play­ing for the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville didn’t seem re­al­is­tic to Ad­cock.

“I fig­ured I could play at a D-II school if I wanted to do that,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d be at Arkansas.”

Ad­cock is happy to have proven him­self wrong.

The fresh­man of­fen­sive line­man has joined Pettway, a red­shirt sopho­more wide re­ceiver, at Arkansas af­ter sign­ing with the Ra­zor­backs and en­rolling in Jan­uary.

“Grow­ing up in Arkansas, you walk around and see the Ra­zor­backs ev­ery­where,” said Ad­cock, a three-year start­ing tackle for the Scrap­pers. “So it’s pretty sur­real to know I’m a player here now.”

Adding to the sur­re­al­ism is that Nashville — with a pop­u­la­tion of 4,627, ac­cord­ing to the 2010 cen­sus — has pro­duced two foot­ball play­ers for the Ra­zor­backs in three years.

“We’re proud that Kirby has fol­lowed La’Michael to Fayet­teville,” Scrap­pers Coach Mike Vo­lar­vich said. “He’s a guy the whole com­mu­nity of Nashville is pulling for. We’re ex­cited about him be­ing up there.”

Arkansas of­fen­sive line coach Kurt An­der­son said it’s easy to un­der­stand what play­ing for the Ra­zor­backs means to Ad­cock.

“You can tell the pride that Kirby has in this pro­gram and the fact that he’s a part of it and how much he wants to be

here,” An­der­son said. “It’s a re­ally spe­cial thing.”

Ad­cock last year won the Wil­lie Roaf Award, which is pre­sented by the Lit­tle Rock Touch­down Club to the state’s top high school of­fen­sive line­man.

“He’s a guy who’s a real plea­sure to coach,” Vo­lar­vich said. “He’s an ex­tremely hard worker. He un­der­stands the game.

“If there was some­thing he needed to cor­rect, you could just tell him, ‘Hey, you did this, next time do this,’ and it was done.

“He a guy that al­ways goes 100 per­cent, and he was a leader for us. Not only is he a re­ally good foot­ball player, but he’s a re­ally good per­son.”

Ad­cock be­gan spring prac­tice work­ing at right tackle with the third-team of­fense but closed it work­ing at right guard.

“I learned a lot in the spring,” he said. “I got to ex­pe­ri­ence the speed of the game and get ad­justed to it, and learned the plays, which is a big, big deal.”

An­der­son said Ad­cock is ver­sa­tile enough to play any­where on the of­fen­sive line.

“What I re­ally like about him is his po­si­tion flex­i­bil­ity,” An­der­son said. “That kid also is a com­peti­tor and be­fore it’s all said and done, he’s go­ing to be a player here be­cause he’s smart and he’s tough and he wants it.

“He’s go­ing to work his tail off to get where he wants to be in life and where he wants to be foot­ball-wise. I’m pumped up about him.”

Ad­cock grad­u­ated from Nashville with a 4.0 grade­point av­er­age.

The clos­est he came to get­ting a B in­stead of an A was a 90 in an English class. There also was a time dur­ing his fresh­man year when he had an 89.4 in ge­om­e­try on his progress re­port.

Ad­cock’s mother, Cindi, helped mo­ti­vate him to raise that grade.

“She took my four-wheeler away and wouldn’t let me ride it again un­til I got an A,” Ad­cock said.

Ad­cock’s four-wheel­ing priv­i­leges were re­stored when he fin­ished the class with a 92.

Dur­ing his first se­mes­ter at Arkansas, Ad­cock had a 3.66 GPA. He got a B in ge­ol­ogy.

“Kirby’s got a great head on his shoul­ders,” Ra­zor­backs se­nior cen­ter Frank Rag­now said. “He un­der­stands ev­ery­thing.

“You never have to tell him the same thing twice.”

Ad­cock said the Arkansas coaches started re­cruit­ing him with more in­ten­sity af­ter his ju­nior sea­son.

Af­ter get­ting a schol­ar­ship of­fer in the spring of 2016, he took a cou­ple of weeks and weighed other of­fers that in­cluded Arkansas State Univer­sity, In­di­ana, Iowa State and South­ern Mis­sis­sippi be­fore com­mit­ting to the Ra­zor­backs.

“It was still a big de­ci­sion to make, be­cause I had to put aside the fact I’m an Arkansas fan,” he said. “It was the rest of my life I had to make a de­ci­sion for, but ul­ti­mately this is where I wanted to be and I’m con­fi­dent it’s the best place for me.”

Ad­cock, 6-5, weighs 290 pounds, about 10 pounds fewer than when he ar­rived at Arkansas.

He said work­ing with strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Ben Her­bert has helped him drop the weight.

He hopes to be back to 300 by the start of fall camp, but this time with more mus­cle.

“I’m in the best con­di­tion I’ve ever been in,” Ad­cock said. “When I go home, peo­ple ask me if I’ve slimmed up.

“I haven’t lost that many pounds, but I’ve lost a lot of fat.”

Ad­cock said he’ll be glad to play this sea­son if given the op­por­tu­nity, but he ex­pects to red­shirt.

“It that hap­pens, I’m fine with it,” Ad­cock said. “I’ll get an ex­tra year to play and fin­ish my de­gree and to get big­ger and stronger and faster.”

Vo­lar­vich said he’s con­fi­dent Ad­cock will de­velop into a line­man who can play in the SEC.

“Of­fen­sive line is one of the harder po­si­tions to get on the field when you’re young just be­cause of the phys­i­cal­ity of it, and the men­tal part of the game,” Vo­lar­vich said. “There are so many things that come along with that.

“But Kirby, as he ma­tures and gets stronger, his men­tal ca­pac­ity and worth ethic are go­ing to put him in po­si­tion to get on the field.”

NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo

Fresh­man of­fen­sive line­man Kirby Ad­cock of Nashville, seen in this Jan­uary photo, ar­rived at Arkansas weigh­ing 300 pounds. He’s now at 290 af­ter spend­ing a se­mes­ter in the off­sea­son con­di­tion­ing pro­gram. “I haven’t lost that many pounds, but I’ve lost a lot of fat,” he said.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER

NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo

6-5, 290 pounds, has been work­ing with Arkansas strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Ben Her­bert to try and get his weight back to 300 pounds by the start of fall camp.

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