By Otis Kirk
Junior tight end Cheyenne (C.J.) O’Grady had his best game of the season on Saturday against Texas A&M.
O’Grady didn’t play the first two games because of a suspension from Chad Morris. He played sparingly against North Texas and Auburn. But on Saturday in a 24-17 loss to the Aggies, O’Grady had three receptions for 77 yards with a long of 36.
The talented O’Grady came to Arkansas from Fayetteville High School and his capabilities on the field have never been in question. O’Grady though made some strides off the field last week according to Joe Craddock, Arkansas’ offensive coordinator.
“This last week was his best week from Monday through Saturday,” Craddock said. “And that’s something that we have encouraged C.J. on. That he’s got to be more consistent being that guy, a guy more mature like you said. His play on Saturday was a direct reflection on his week and how that led to the game. He’s doing everything, he did everything last week that was on the positive report at study hall. All those things lead up to doing the right thing on the field.
“You do the right things off the field it’s a direct correlation on the field. I’m not ready to put him on a pedestal just yet. I’m hoping he’ll do the right things because obviously you’ve seen what kind of a weapon he can be with the ball in his hands. He’s a guy that we’ve got our arm around. We’ve got to kind of pull him through a knothole and make sure we get him to the game on Saturdays and make sure he’s doing the right things off the field in all the right way so that will correlate on the field as well.”
The Hogs were down 17-0 with 12:36 remaining in the first half when O’Grady made his presence felt. Arkansas had a first-and-10 at its own 25. Quarterback Ty Storey found O’Grady on a short route and the powerful tight end turned it into a 36-yard gain to the A&M 39.
Running back Rakeem Boyd then ran for 16 yards to the Aggies 23. After another carry by Boyd failed to gain any yardage, Storey found O’Grady again this time for 17 yards to the A&M six. Three plays later Cole Kelley scored on a one-yard run.
“Once we got a little spark from C.J. we were able to get some things going and starting to get into a little bit of a rhythm,” Craddock said.
Arkansas trailed 24-10 with 5:03 remaining in the game. The Hogs once again took over at their own 25. O’Grady once again played a key role in setting up Arkansas’ second touchdown of the game. After Storey found Boyd for 11 yards and then rushed for 11 himself, the Razorbacks had the ball at their own 47. On first down, Storey’s pass intended for Mike Woods was incomplete. On second down, Storey found O’Grady for a 24-yard gain to the A&M 29. On the next play, Storey hit Woods for a touchdown.
The performance by O;Grady obviously didn’t go unnoticed by Morris.
“It was good to see C.J. O’Grady coming in and having success and providing a spark,” Morris said. “That was much needed. We all know he’s extremely talented. But it’s the little things. He focused a lot on the little things last week and obviously that result continued to pay off during Saturday’s game.”
At Arkansas, O’Grady has played in 22 games to this point with two starts. He has caught 27 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
As a senior at Arkansas, O’Grady helped lead the team to the state championship. He caught 41 passes for 766 yards and 11 touchdowns. That followed a junior season when he had 45 receptions for 844 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He chose the Hogs over offers from Oklahoma, Texas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and others.