FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is set to begin Year 3 under Sam Pittman and Cody Kennedy has helped develop some depth and versatility on the the offensive line.
Left tackle Myron Cunningham is the only starter from last season not back for 2022, but the Hogs have some options for that spot. Redshirt juniors Luke Jones and Brady Latham have worked there as well as redshirt freshman Devon Manuel. Latham was the starting left guard in 2021, but has worked some at left tackle and when he does then Jones shifts into that spot at guard. Talented junior Ty’Kieast Crawford has spent the majority of his time at right tackle with Dalton Wagner nursing a back injury.
“Not yet,” Pittman said of trying Crawford at left tackle. “Well, it’s part of the plan. We know Brady can play anything. He can play any position, including center. It’s like Ty Clary last year. He could play all the spots, but what if he gets hurt? Yeah Luke, Devon Manuel. I keep thinking that he’s going to come on and help us there. So we have about four guys, with Ty’Kieast going to have an opportunity to do that as well. We have four or five guys over there but Luke definitely has been the most consistent of that group.”
Since that is the one opening and no one completely took control of it in the spring is that a spot that worries Pittman?
“I guess part of it is, I don’t feel like that we won’t be good at that spot, you know what I mean,” Pittman said. “I think that’s part of it. Then you come back and you go is this hurting us? Then you go back and say is this the best look, can we get the most yardage with these five guys in these positions? I don’t know the answer to that yet. I do know this, we’ve tried a lot of people. I do believe that it starts at center and it goes to left tackle, then it goes to right tackle. Not that the guards aren’t important. They are. I think that’s where you put your best players and we’ve got to find out if that’s exactly what we’re doing or not.”
Crawford only played sparingly last season after transferring in from Charlotte. Is is accurate to say he has made huge strides since last fall?
“He’s helped us,” Pittman said. “Ty’Kieast, there’s a lot of teams that can win a lot of games with Ty’Kieast Crawford. He’s a good player. I mean like a legit SEC good player. It’s really helped him. We’re being super cautious about Wagner’s back. We have to get it healthy. Ty’Kieast has allowed us to do that. Of course, Ricky Stromberg has been out for a week now, four practices, I think. It’s helping us develop that center spot as well with those two guys banged up a little bit. It’s funny you asked about Crawford because we’ve been talking about him. We actually moved him inside to guard for part of the practice Thursday. He’s playing really good, so we’ve got to find a place for him.”
Crawford was a highly-sought four-star offensive tackle from Carthage (Texas) High School in the Class of 2020. He was committed to Arkansas, but then backed off that pledge. It appeared he might not have some issues qualifying academically and thus ended up at Charlotte. He left Charlotte after one season though and transferred to the Hogs.