FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Growing up in Fayetteville, Cheyenne O’Grady always dreamed of playing for the Razorbacks.
After redshirting as a freshman last season, O’Grady is getting his first opportunity at playing time. He is competing to be the No. 2 tight end behind senior Jeremy Sprinkle.
O’Grady’s love for the Razorbacks began at a young age because his father, Larry Marks, played basketball at Arkansas. Marks died at age 33 in 2000 after suffering a heart attack.
O’Grady spoke with SEC Country at Sunday’s local media day about his push for playing time, catching the wrath of coach Bret Bielema and more.
Where do you feel like you stand in the competition to play behind starter Jeremy Sprinkle?
“I’ve come a long way, honestly. From a gaining-weight standpoint and a physical standpoint. I feel like I’ve also become more crisp with my route running. I’ve still got a long way to go, but right now we’ve all been progressing, and it’s still a toss-up. Nothing’s set right now. It’s anybody’s spot.”
What are your strengths as a tight end?
“Definitely catching the ball, and I think I’m a faster type of tight end. I wouldn’t say I’m the fastest, but I think speed is on my side more than the blocking. The blocking is something I do struggle with.”
How much have you learned from guys like Hunter Henry and Sprinkle?
“So much. Hunter winning the Mackey Award (in 2015) and going to the NFL, that’s huge. He was the best tight end in the nation. Watching him every day and learning from him has taught me a lot. That’s helped contribute to my process developing as a player.”
Coach Bielema said you catch the ball really well 75 percent of the time. What’s that about?
“I know exactly what he’s talking about. It was (Saturday) in practice and I tried to snag a ball one-handed. It was beamed at me by Cole Kelley, our freshman quarterback, and I tried to catch it one-handed and completely failed at it. He got onto me really badly.”
Has the playing time in practice been evenly split between the tight ends behind Sprinkle so far?
“(Tight ends) coach (Barry) Lunney said going into fall camp we’re all going to get an even amount of reps. So that’s the way it’s been so far, and we’re all going to be evaluated the same way to see who earns it.”
What do you think about Austin Allen entering his first year as the starting quarterback?
“I’ve been able to watch him since high school since we went to the same school (Fayetteville High School). He was a great player then, and he’s a great player now. I think he’s come a long way as a leader coming into this season. Going through the summer running routes on our own, he would get everyone together and make sure they’re there and accountable.”
What does it mean to you being from Fayetteville to come play here?
“Ever since I was about 4 or 5 years old and knew what sports were, I’ve always been a Razorback fan. I didn’t get to go to too many games as a kid, but I always took the opportunity to come watch when I could because I just loved watching the Razorbacks. My dad actually played (basketball) here in the late ’80s, early ’90s. That gave me even more reason to come here and try to continue that legacy.”