BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON

The phrase next man up gets tossed around a lot in sports, but it seems to be an apt description of what junior offensive lineman Ty’Kiest Crawford is for the Arkansas football team.

Crawford (6-5, 315) may be listed as the back up to Dalton Wagner at right tackle, but is also considered the top reserve at every spot on the line except center.

“I can play any position that they want me to play,” Crawford said Wednesday after the team’s 17th preseason practice. “I can go out there and do it for them.”

Crawford played in all 13 of Arkansas’ games  last season with 107 snaps, 72 on special teams and 35 at right tackle.

The 21-year-old, who was a four-star prospect out of Carthage, Texas,  believes he can flip to either side without a problem.

“I’ll be on any side they want me to,” Crawford said. “I’m comfortable. I get in there and do my job. Do my assignment. That’s it.”

Crawford has worked at first-team right guard recently with starter Brady Latham banged up.

“Honestly, just because Brady is hurt doesn’t mean anything,” Crawford said. “We’re just next man up. I can play any position they want me to play. I’ll go out there and do it for them.

Crawford was committed to Arkansas from April 19, 2019 until Oct. 12 of that year out of high school, but didn’t end up in Fayetteville until after a year at Charlotte.

As a freshman he started three games for the 49ers with 151 snaps and not allowing  a sack on 55 pass blocking plays.

He admittedly did not arrive in shape.

“The biggest thing for me at first was just losing weight,” Crawford said. “I came in overweight, like 380. I didn’t like it. They didn’t like it either. I’m down to about 315 now, so a good 70 pounds I lost.”

Losing that weight has obvious positives per Crawford.

“It has helped me with my feet,” Crawford said. “…But at the same time moving light is not always good. You have got to make sure you are always ready to dominate. I wasn’t really dominating. I was going around blocks and not trying to really hit. 

“So losing weight helped me get my body to where it needed to be so when I have to strike somebody, I am going to strike them.”

Crawford gives Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Jamil Walker credit for helping him lose the weight.

“Coach Walker and his training staff,” Crawford said. “I don’t eat as much as I used to. I made sure of that, but also I got the mentality of ‘this is what I want, where I want my body to be. This is how it has to be.’”

Asked if he felt like he would get a second chance to be a Razorback, Crawford preferred to concentrate on the present. 

“This is home,” Crawford said. “That is it.”

Crawford notes he is being mentored by all of Arkansas veterans and Razorback offensive line coach Cody Kennedy. 

“It’s mainly like a whole group thing,” Crawford said. “Coach Kennedy makes sure we know everything and are on top of new plays we might install.”

Crawford is happy that Arkansas will finally start it’s prep for Sep. 3 season-opening foe Cincinnati on Thursday.

“I have been ready since the season ended last year,” Crawford said. “I’m so ready for the season to start. I am so ready to go study film of Cincinnati.”

Crawford and Arkansas defensive end Jashaud Stewart are roommates and appeared together at Thursday’s press conference.

They go against each other in practice at times.

“I’d say with Ty, once he gets his hands on you, it is pretty tough to get them off,” Stewart said. “I feel like he is pretty good with his feet. He is getting pretty good at pass protection.”

Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas