Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Hog Futures: Sebastain Tretola:
Lineman big man on campus
Arkansas offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola goes through drills Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
The 23rd in a series profiling newcomers on the 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks football team.
FAYETTEVILLE -- As a 200-pound outside linebacker, TQ Coleman doesn't want to go one-on-one against any of his Arkansas offensive line teammates in practice, but there is one in particular he hopes to avoid.
"Big 73. The new guy. Sebastian," Coleman said. "I don't want no part of that. I'm going the opposite way when he's coming at me."
Sebastian Tretola glance
CLASS Redshirt junior
WEIGHT 360 pounds
LAST STOP Western Iowa Community College
HIGH SCHOOL San Bernardino (Calif.) El Cajon
NOTEWORTHY Began his college career at Nevada. Redshirted in 2011 and started four games in 2012, then was ruled academically ineligible. … Enrolled at Western Iowa and got his academics back in order. … Rated among the top 10 junior college offensive linemen last season by several recruiting services. … Chose Arkansas over scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Florida and TCU. … Has been working at second-team right guard in fall camp.
Junior guard Sebastian Tretola, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, was packing 370 pounds on his 6-5 frame when he reported for the start of fall camp.
"He's just a giant," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said.
Tretola slowly is getting a little smaller. He lost 10 pounds the first week of practice and said he hopes to be down to 350 by the time Arkansas opens the season Aug. 30 at Auburn.
"This is the heaviest I've been in my life," Tretola said. "I'm definitely trying to lose weight as fast as possible, but do it the most healthy way I can."
Tretola played at 320 pounds last season, but then in January he went home to San Bernardino, Calif., where he finished some online classes this spring and summer to be eligible to open practice with the Razorbacks.
Instead of joining his new teammates for workouts, he worked out on his own and enjoyed his mother's home cooking for seven months.
"My mom is a fantastic cook, so those home-cooked meals got the best of me," he said. "Everything she makes is great, but I really love her beef enchiladas. I can almost eat a whole pan by myself."
Tretola quickly eased the Arkansas coaches' worries about his stamina for fall camp.
"We were concerned that on the first day he wouldn't make it through individual period 2, and whenever we said that he looked at us like, 'Are you crazy?' " offensive line coach Sam Pittman said. "Since we started practicing, he hasn't missed a drill, he hasn't missed a play, he hasn't missed anything.
"So imagine what you will have when he gets down to 340. You'll probably have something really special, and he's pretty good right now."
Tretola is practicing at second-team right guard behind returning starter Denver Kirkland, but he's putting himself in position for playing time.
"He's big and physical, and we know he can run and trap and pull," Pittman said. "He hit a guy the other day and knocked him about 5 yards in the air.
"He's got a bright future here. There's a reason why we went and got him, because he's going to help us."
Freshman nose guard Bijhon Jackson, 6-2 and 316 pounds, said he knows practicing against Tretola is helping him improve.
"Don't let the weight deceive you, he can really move," Jackson said. "He's going to help me get ready for SEC play."
Tretola began his college career at Nevada, where he redshirted in 2011 and played in 10 games in 2012, including four starts. After helping the Wolfpack to a New Mexico Bowl bid, Tretola was declared academically ineligible and was dismissed from school.
"I was immature and making dumb decisions," Tretola said. "When I got kicked out of school, it was reality check. I was like, 'What are you doing? You've got to get on the right track.' That really was a turning point for me."
Tretola got his academics in order at Iowa Western and resumed his football career. He played well enough to be ranked among the top 10 junior college offensive lineman by several recruiting services.
His top three choices were Arkansas, Oklahoma and TCU. He signed with Arkansas because he wanted to play in the SEC. Florida made a late offer, but by then Tretola was fully committed to Arkansas and Pittman.
"I'm a competitor, and I want the challenge of the SEC," Tretola said. "I want to play the Alabamas, the Auburns, the Georgias, the LSUs -- the best of the best every week.
"I have to take that challenge if I'm the player I believe I am."
Tretola said it's been fun practicing and "getting back in the groove" with an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team.
"When I've been away from football for a long time, I get an itch for it," he said. "I need the pads, I need to hit, so getting back into that was fantastic."
Tretola is back at guard -- his position at Nevada -- after he played tackle for Iowa Western. He said he'll be happy to play wherever the Razorbacks need him, but guard is his preference.
"Tackle is fun because you kind of get to beat up on the defensive ends. They're not as heavy," Tretola said. "But you get inside, and those are the big boys.
"I like it more inside where it's gritty, grimy, 330-pound guys just smacking each other."
Sports on 08/16/2014