Harrell excelling at new position for Razorbacks
FAYETTEVILLE — Since last spring’s practices into this August preseason, the defense mostly has won the belt that Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Chad Morris awards the unit he deems dominating that day’s practice.
Not Monday, though.
The offense got the nod and enjoyed it.
“Yes, sir, we dominated the red zone and Coach Morris said that’s our belt,” senior second-year graduate transfer tight end Chase Harrell said after Monday’s closed practice. “I scored one in the red zone.”
Catching four passes for 60 yards as a Razorbacks reserve wide receiver last year transferring with junior football eligibility but already with his University of Kansas degree in communications, Harrell caught a touchdown during last Saturday’s scrimmage plus Monday for two TD’S this season. He’s consistently merited Morris’ praise since last spring moving to tight end.
Though now with 245 pounds instead of 220 on his 6-4 frame, Harrell said his speed enhances for the position he now plays.
“I’ve always been a fast guy, but really my speed at receiver was kind of average,” Harrell said. “But once they moved me to tight end, my speed kind of went up. I would say I’m actually catching the ball better. I love the role.”
How about all that hand in the dirt heavy duty blocking a defensive end that didn’t beset him at receiver?
“In terms of the blocking game, I still have a lot to work on,” Harrell said. “It’s a mindset. You’ve got to want to block.”
He says he’s got the wantto. “I’m more of a physical guy, so I like blocking,” Harrell said. “It has been challenging and I do have to work on my technique. But I’d say it’s getting easier each and every day.”
Harrell said his offseason move from receiver to tight end may have stemmed from a joking remark he made to tight ends coach Barry Lunney last November.
“With like two weeks left in the season I was like, ‘Hey, you want me to put my hand in the dirt,” Harrell recalled. “I was just kidding, but I guess they picked up on it and they wanted me to switch. After that he told me to just think about it. Then like two days later I was like, ‘Yeah Coach, I want to switch.”
The new position and establishing now old friends from last year’s new relationships seems to have spawned a new lease on Harrell’s Arkansas life.
“Coming in my first year, I was like an outsider,” Harrell said. “I didn’t know any of the guys and it was kind of awkward. With more time with the team, they’ve kind of accepted me and now I can call them my brothers because we’ve been working and grinding together.”
Harrell said he’s excited he’s a father to be for the future with time between the past of the 2017 shooting death of his brother Cole in Houston, Harrell’s home town.
“Losing my brother is what led me to transfer,” Chase said of feeling a change of locale would help him work through his emotional pain.
Now the new locale comes with a new position from which Morris expects much starting with 2019 senior tight end C.J. O’grady’s 30 catches for 400 yards last year.
“We utilize our tight ends a lot in the passing game,” Harrell said. “So, I feel like there will be a bunch of chances for me to step up.”
While Harrell and the offense enjoyed Monday’s belt, the defense determined to buckle down.
“I know (Monday) the offense won it and it didn’t sit well with the defense,” junior linebacker Grant Morgan of Greenwood said. “Because that’s like our first time to give it up in a while.”
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols, in concussion protocol last week, practiced Monday, but freshman tight end Hudson Henry, also concussion protocol last week, was still withheld.
Possibly injured in last Saturday’s scrimmage since they weren’t spotted practicing Monday were junior running back T.J. Hammonds, freshman nickel back Greg Brooks and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Nick Fulwider.
True freshman defensive end Eric Gregory appears a possible redshirt candidate having undergone ankle surgery expected to sideline him several weeks.