FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Senior tight end Chase Harrell came to Arkansas from Kansas prior to the 2018 season.
He was a wide receiver at Kansas and his first season with the Razorbacks. On Monday, Harrell talked about how the move to tight end came about.
“Honestly I like it,” Harrell said. “I mentioned it to Coach (Barry) Lunney with like two weeks left in the season. I was like, ‘Hey, you want me to put my hand in the dirt. 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.’”
In 2018, Harrell played in 10 games finishing with four receptions for 60 yards. How is the move to tight end going for you including practice today?
“I had a pretty good day I felt like with the passing game,” Harrell said. “In terms of the blocking game, I still have a lot to work on. Other than that, I felt like it was a good day.”
Harrell has gone from 220 pounds at wide receiver to 245 at tight end. He also talked about catching the football better now than when at tight end.
“Yeah, I would say I’m actually catching the ball better,” Harrell said. “I’ve been working super hard over the spring and then summer. I’ve just been putting in a lot of work, so I feel like I’m good in the receiving game.”
What’s the difference?
“I’d say my mindset,” Harrell said. “I just came into this fall camp, and the spring, I just came in with a different mindset. I knew it was going to be hard because it was a whole new position change, but I just wanted to keep my mind level. Not get frustrated with myself and just attack every day.”
Harrell is a senior and wants this season to be one to remember for him.
“I’d say that. I really don’t have anything to lose, man. I have a little kid on the way. I’m excited about that and I really want this season to set the tone for the future.”
Cheyenne O’Grady and Grayson Gunter and the other tight ends have been helpful to Harrell.
“Yes they have,” Harrell said. “They’ve been in that room for about five years, Grayson I think for like three years. They’ve been telling me what to do on a couple of plays. They’ve been helping me out by being good teammates.”
What do you feel like you bring to the tight end room?
“I bring leadership by example,” Harrell said. “I always try do everything right. I don’t miss any meetings. I don’t miss workouts or anything. I try to do everything right. So other people can watch me and say ‘I see him doing that. I want to do that too.’”
It’s expected the tight ends will get the ball pretty frequently in the passing game, but how difficult has it been to get the blocking aspect of the position down?
“Once again I’d go back to mindset.” Harrell said. “You’ve got to want to block. If you don’t want to block it’s going to be a little harder. But, I’m more of a physical guy, so I like blocking. It has been challenging and I do have to work on my technique within blocking. I’d say it’s getting easier each and every day.”
On Saturday during the scrimmage, Harrell caught a touchdown pass.
” It was good,” Harrell said. “My goal going in was to have a good day. I wanted to catch a touchdown and I did, so I’m trying to focus on that.”
Since you have played for both Justin Stepp at wide receiver and now Lunney at tight end how would you compare the two?
“I’d say Coach Lunney is more laid back which isn’t bad,” Harrell said. “Every coach coach is different. Coach Stepp is a technician guy, which Coach Lunney is, too. But Coach Lunney is more laid back. He cracks jokes and stuff which is pretty good.”
A few day’s ago Chad Morris questioned some things about O’Grady. How is O’Grady handling all that?
“He’s been doing good,” Harrell said. “I really notice him in the meetings. He’s interactive with Coach Lunney and stuff. And I feel he’s had a good camp. I just feel he needs to keep at it.”
In addition to being a senior, what do you credit for your maturing this season?
“Everybody’s gone through a bunch in their life,” Harrell said. “I’d say definitely the things I’ve gone through. I lost my brother [Cole in fatal shooting at party] in 2017. That’s what led me to transfer.
“And a couple of schools I wanted to go to got blocked, and then the recruiting process slowed down and it really gave me a chance to realize who I am and take a step back and look at myself. That ‘I’m going to have to grind through this. I’m going to have to get stronger.’ I feel that defines me as a man and a person who just keeps going. Keeps going. Perseverance.”
Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Portland State. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. The Razorbacks will return to the practice field on Tuesday morning at 10:05 a.m.