FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas offered former Tulsa (Okla.) Union offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg shortly before the early signing period.
Stromberg, who was committed to Tulsa, jumped at the Arkansas offer and now many associated with the Razorbacks are pleased he did. Stromberg is set to start his third game at offensive guard.
On Tuesday night, Stromberg talked about what it has been like starting as a true freshman.
“It’s been pretty cool,” Stromberg said. “It’s definitely out there compared to high school. That’s for sure. Everyone’s faster, everyone’s stronger. Everyone I go against is bigger because of my weight right now. But overall it’s been pretty fun and exciting.”
Some thought Stromberg might need a year in the weight room before he was ready to make this kind of impact. But Stromberg, despite still needing to add weight, has made an immediate impact.
“The last time I weighed I was 276,” Stromberg said. “I’ll get up to 279, and then I’ll go down to 275. I’m eating a lot. I’m trying to get to up to 280, 285.”
That is still light for an SEC guard. Stromberg talked about what he’s doing that’s allowing him to have success.
“I’m just trying to play with good technique, because I know that my weight and my strength aren’t up there like other SEC guys,” Stromberg said. “So I’m really trying to get good pad level on people and play with good technique.”
Chad Morris and Dustin Fry, Arkansas’ offensive line coach, say that Stromberg plays with a mean streak.
“I just like to play physical,” Stromberg said. “I like to hit people.”
Junior center Ty Clary said opposing defensive linemen try to intimidate Stromberg, but that it doesn’t work.
“On the field in the game they did,” Stromberg said. “But Sosa (Agim) and them, they don’t really. But on the field, yeah, they do.”
What do they do?
“Colorado State, they were calling me freshman this and that,” Stromberg said. “Freshman, new guy, stuff like that. When I made a mistake and I jumped on fourth-and-1, everyone was like, ‘Freshman, freshman, freshman.’”
What did they have to say when you made that clearing block for Rakeem Boyd on his touchdown run?
“They didn’t say anything,” Stromberg said.
When they say stuff do you say anything back?
“Nah. I just keep my mouth shut,” Stromberg said. “I used to talk in high school, but I’m a freshman in the SEC. I’m not allowed to talk, really.”
When it comes to putting on weight this time Stromberg wants to make sure it’s done the right way. He got too big as a junior at Tulsa Union.
“Yeah, I was 335 going into my junior year and I cramped up the first half of my first game,” Stromberg said. “As the season went on, I dropped down to, I want to say, 285 in my senior season.”
How hard is it to gain weight during the season?
“It’s pretty hard because of practice, it’s always hot out there,” Stromberg said. “You lift two times a week. It’s really hard to kind of keep your weight up because you’re always running around, always practicing. It is easy to gain bad weight if you’re not playing though.”
What kind of calories are they putting down you?
“I just go to the Jones center over there, I eat a lot of meat and a lot of protein,” Stromberg said. “I just try to increase that intake.”
Stromberg considers Clary the leader of the offensive line and has been someone he can lean on for information.
“I honestly just listen to him,” Stromberg said. “If I need something on the line, he tells me what to do. I can of just follow in his football, follow in his shadow kind of. He’s kind of like a big brother to me, honestly.”
Clary told Stromberg that he might play this year. Stromberg talked about when it hit him he would play as a true freshman.
“I came into camp just trying to make the travel squad, but I started playing and I kind of realized I could play with these guys,” Stromberg said. “I had no clue I could. I realized I was going to play a little bit in the first scrimmage when I ran with the 1s a little bit. Coach Fry then told me I was going to travel and all this stuff, so I got my mind prepared for it.”
Stromberg said he and his father talked about what to expect as a true freshman.
“I was thinking redshirt,” Stromberg said. “I was going to try and travel. Me and my dad talked about it before I left, I was going to come in here, and he just told me, ‘Weight room and class is going to be your best bet.’”
What dad say when you told him that you were going to start?
“He was in shock, and I was too,” Stromberg said. “We both were in shock. He was really excited for me though.”
The coaches have mentioned how you handled the news when they told you that you were starting at Ole Miss.
“I mean, I try to keep it under my skin but inside I’m like a little kid jumping around,” Stromberg said. “Outside, I’m just like, ‘Yes sir, yeah.’”
Stromberg said practicing against Arkansas’ defensive line is when he began to realize he had a chance at playing this season.
“Going against Sosa and T.J. (Smith) and those guys, Jonathan Marshall, Isaiah Nichols,” Stromberg said. “When I realized I could block them and win a couple of reps, I started winning a little bit more. Just learning how to block those guys, I realized I could play.”
While Stromberg was committed to Tulsa at the time Arkansas offered him it turns out he probably would have never suited up for them.
“No, I actually think I would be grey shirting to OU,” Stromberg said. “That was my plan before Arkansas even contacted me, so. Nah, I wasn’t going to go to Tulsa at the time.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields today at 4:30 p.m.