Its only week 3 and injuries have turn one of the deepest positions on the team into slimmist. Arkansas is currently without two of their top defensive ends.
Dorian Gerald who’s out for the season and Jamario Bell who should be back in a couple weeks.
But with those two out it’s allowed an opportunity for guys to step up including true freshman Mataio Soli.
“It’s a blessing. I was real happy when they told me that I was going to be able to.”
Soli got his first start as a Razorback against Ole Miss last week in Oxford. The start gave him an opportunity to prove himself and make adjustments to his game.
“First game I felt Like I was playing to conservative, I wasn’t playing like how I usually play,” Soli said. “But the second game I felt like I did good.”
The freshman’s teammates agree with his assessment of his first full game action.
“Once he got those jitters out he played fast,” added senior defensive end Gabe Richardson. “He continued to be better. And you know just buy in to the system. He’s going to make plays regardless.”
“I went to Soli on Sunday and said keep doing what he doing. Soli is quiet, he’s very humble,” said senior linebacker Scoota Harris. “I told him he had a huge game. Especially playing with one hand. Like I said it was his first SEC game as a freshman. He played huge so I just keep encouraging him to keep doing the same thing he been doing.”
Soli grew up a fan of the Razorbacks and wearing the Arkansas uniform means a lot to him. The second generation Hog understands the expectations that come with putting on the jersey.
“A lot of everything in Arkansas is based on what we do as a team. We can really like set the whole state on fire with how we perform,” Soli said. “If we perform good they, the whole Arkansas going to be happy. But if we perform bad all of Arkansas is going to be mad. So we know the impact that we can have. Every time we work out every time we do everything we think about all of that. ”
Mataio’s Dad Junior Soli played at Arkansas and was an all-Conference Defensive Tackle For The Razorbacks’ first Sec West Championship Team In 1995.
Mataio says he is doing his own thing and he knows he can be better than his dad when his Razorback career is over with.
“He knows I can be better than him. So I am just trying to be me, the best me I can be.”
Soli and the Razorbacks will face Colorado State today at 3 p.m. inside Razorback Stadium with the Hogs trying to bounce back after the loss to Ole Miss last week.