FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)- Springdale native Mitch Smothers has seen his share of ups and downs during his three years with the Arkansas football team. In 2011 he was the first freshman offensive lineman in school history to start the first game of the year.
Then a reality check came.
Smothers had to redshirt in 2012. He lost his starting spot after four games in 2013. Now, in his fourth year, he’s getting a strong push as the first string center from a true freshman.
If the season started today Smothers would be the starting center, but Frank Ragnow is closing the gap, according to coaches. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman says the competition will continue and the spot is wide open.
“The competition, this is the most depth I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Smothers said. “The competition is just going to make us all better. It’s a great motivator to know I have to step up this year because I don’t have many opportunities left. “
Ragnow came in as one of the top offensive line recruits in the country and played tackle at a small school in Minnesota. He has since made the move to center and is catching on fast.
“We all know it’s a competitive thing so we all bring it every practice,” Ragnow said.
Only one player will get to start at center, but Ragnow and Smothers don’t let the competition get the best of them.
“It’s a fun, fun group,” said Ragnow. “We always joke around. Mitch is hilarious. He and I joke around all the time.”
A starter likely won’t be named until game week.