Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Less will lead to more for Hogs lineman
Arkansas offensive guard Sebastian Tretola goes through drills during practice on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Sebastian Tretola arrived at Arkansas shattering stereotypes.
The junior college transfer's next breakthrough could start somewhere along the Razorbacks' offensive line.
"I told him I thought he was the best lineman we had on the field in today's practice," Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman said Monday. "Obviously we are still searching for a spot to put him at."
Tretola challenges fifth-year senior Luke Charpentier at first-team left guard. Last Saturday Tretola scrimmaged at first-team right guard with sophomore incumbent Denver Kirkland injured.
Tretola has practiced first- and second-team on both guard sides, did some center snapping on the side and never missed an August drill despite obviously not missing many summer meals before encountering Razorbacks strength coach Ben Herbert.
Excess weight was a part of the stereotype Tretola toted from Iowa Western Community College.
A native of San Bernardino, Calif., Tretola spent 2011 and 2012 at the University of Nevada, one year redshirting and one year lettering. He didn't play a third season in Reno because he was academically ineligible.
Tretola spent autumn 2013 regrouping academically while starring at Iowa Western and was rated among the nation's top junior college prospects.
Needing summer credits to complete his graduation from junior college, Tretola, 6-5, ballooned to 370 pounds in Iowa while his Razorbacks teammates worked out in Fayetteville.
To the uninitiated, Tretola bore a past raising stereotypical questions regarding intelligence, motivation and weighing too much to help immediately.
One conversation clears up the intelligence. This is a bright, young man finally motivated to prove it. He confessed doing just enough to slide by high school and obviously not enough to get by at Nevada.
"I had to go to juco, and it was really a turning point," Tretola said. "It made me realize you have got to get your head on straight and get this done. That's when I went to Iowa Western and got it done."
As for Tretola's 370-pound arrival, Pittman said after just a practice that Tretola could provide depth without shedding a pound but would contribute more if he shed many.
"He can help us now," Pittman said then. "He's a powerful cat with quick feet and has nice leverage. Ask anybody on that D-line, he's a physical, mean sucker, man."
Now ask and they'll say "a physical, mean, slimmer sucker."
Tretola weighed 350 Monday, down 20 pounds from Aug. 4 and still strong. He aims for 335 by the Aug. 30 season opener at Auburn.
"That first week I was exhausted, but I battled through it," Tretola said. "I give all that to Coach Herb. Definitely the best strength and nutritionist coach that I have had. He knows what to eat and how to control it."
Herbert's control turns Tretola green.
"As much as I hate them, it's a lot of greens in the diet," Tretola said. "A lot more greens and a lot more fruit in the morning. Just healthier stuff all round."
All of which makes Tretola healthier and not as round.
"He was athletic at 370," Pittman said. "So he's more athletic now."
Sports on 08/20/2014