Raulerson on guard to stay on Razorbacks' first team

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Arkansas offensive lineman Jake Raulerson participates in a drill during practice Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, at the football practice field on the university campus in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas offensive lineman Jake Raulerson participates in a drill during practice Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, at the football practice field on the university campus in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Jake Raulerson is trying to win back his old job as the Arkansas Razorbacks' starting right guard.

So far, so good this spring for the fifth-year senior from Celina, Texas.

ADVERTISEMENT

More headlines

Jake Raulerson at a glance

COLLEGE Arkansas

CLASS Fifth-year senior

POSITION Offensive lineman

HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-4, 315 pounds

HOMETOWN Celina, Texas

NOTEWORTHY Started first eight games for the Razorbacks last season — seven at right guard and one at center — after transferring to Arkansas from Texas as a graduate student … Working at first-team right guard this spring … Has gained 20 pounds since the end of last season.

Raulerson started eight games last season before being replaced by Johnny Gibson against Florida.

"It was humbling to be put on the second team," Raulerson said. "But it probably helped me develop as a player, because I'm striving to get that job back."

Raulerson has worked at first-team right guard throughout spring practice. Gibson. a redshirt junior, is on the second team.

Coach Bret Bielema said Gibson has to show more commitment after being put on scholarship before the Belk Bowl. So, for now the starting job belongs to Raulerson.

"It feels great," Raulerson said. "But spring is spring. It all matters in the fall, so we'll see what happens."

Raulerson, 6-4, is up to 315 pounds. He played at 295 last season after arriving at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville as a graduate transfer from Texas. He worked with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert throughout the winter to have a more consistent diet with his weight-lifting regime.

"Jake's body has changed," Bielema said. "He's definitely a different player than when he came here from Texas."

Offensive line coach Kurt Anderson said he stressed to Raulerson the need to add weight.

"He knew all the things to do last season, but he didn't necessarily have the mass to move bodies in the SEC," Anderson said. "Kudos to him for taking that to heart and doing what he needed to do.

"He looks great and he's playing well. An opportunity has arisen to run with the ones, and he's taken full grasp of that. I have a feeling he's going to do everything he can to try and hang on to that spot."

Raulerson said gaining and maintaining weight has been an issue for him since being about 220 pounds as a high school senior, but he's found a formula at Arkansas that works.

"Coach Herb always talks about what we put in our body is key," said Raulerson, who eats eggs and oatmeal for breakfast every morning and keeps adding protein throughout the day. "You have to eat certain things at a certain time.

"Being able to be consistent with that food and how I'm eating has been a real game-changer as far as my weight."

Raulerson said knowing he's headed into senior season has provided plenty of motivation.

"One last year," he said. "So I've got to make the best of it."

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos said Raulerson played with an ankle injury much of last season.

"As we went back and watched the cut-ups, early in the year he played pretty good," Enos said. "Then as the season wore on, with the ankle, he didn't have as much power in his leg and it really hurt him.

"Now he's healthy and he understands what we're doing. He's really starting to come into his own."

This is the first spring practice in two years for Raulerson. He didn't go through spring practice at Texas last year after deciding he would transfer and didn't arrive at Arkansas until shortly before preseason practice started.

Raulerson also made the transition from center -- where he played the majority of his time at Texas -- to guard with the Razorbacks.

"I'm a lot more comfortable than I was last year," Raulerson said. "It was a bit of a shock going from one position to another.

"To be able to play better, move better and get a year under this staff has just been great."

Raulerson said he can tell the difference this spring blocking against defensive linemen such as McTelvin Agim, Bijhon Jackson and Austin Capps.

"Those are big dudes, but I can feel that I'm getting a little more push off the ball," he said. "Before it was real hard to get movement. It's not easy by any means now, but it feels better than it did last year."

Coaches continued to praise Raulerson last season after he lost his starting job. Raulerson played significant snaps against Florida and Missouri at right guard when left guard Hjalte Froholdt was injured and Gibson switched sides.

"I can't say enough about Jake's attitude and unselfishness," Enos said. "A guy that started, got benched, but then several times played off the bench and helped us.

"He didn't pout, didn't complain. He comes to work every day. It's awesome to have a guy like that in our program."

Raulerson said he wanted to contribute whatever his role.

"It kind of gave me a little bit of a spark to say, 'OK, I lost the job and I need to get in there and prove to myself and everyone else that I can be trusted,' " he said. "Even if it's as a backup to come in late in games.

"As a player, you have to go into every game thinking you're going to get on the field at some point. If you don't have that mindset, you're not going to play well."

Sports on 04/13/2017

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.