By Otis Kirk
Sophomore tight end Grayson Gunter will be returning to his homestate on Saturday to take on Mississippi State.
Gunter is from Madison, Miss., and is looking forward to this game. You had a big catch there in 2016 does it bring back any big memories to go there this time?
“It definitely does,” Gunter said. “Growing up in Mississippi this was always a big game for me. Being able to go home and play in front of people I have known my entire life it’s definitely cool and something I am looking forward to.”
You have a lot of connections with the guys on the team there or some of them?
“I do,” Gunter said. “I know several people on the team I went to high school with. I have been in touch with them this week. They said they are excited to see me so I’m definitely excited for that.”
For Gunter, he could have been on the opposite side of the field on Saturday if the recruiting had turned out differently.
“They did,” Gunter said. “They actually offered me. They were in my top two between here and Mississippi State. So they did recruit me pretty hard.”
What did your dad who played at Ole Miss think of that?
“It was a little bit different with my dad playing at Ole Miss, but he told me from the get go he was gonna support me wherever I wanted to go,” Gunter said.
Arkansas won the game in 2016 58-42. Other than catching his first collegiate pass and getting the win, what else stands out to him about the game?
“I think not punting one time definitely stood out,” Gunter said. “Going down there and doing what we did offensively was kinda unheard of. I think four tight ends caught a ball. We ran for I don’t know how much. Rawleigh (Williams III) had an amazing game. That’s something was definitely fun.”
Gunter had a 29-yard reception against the Bulldogs in 2016. This season, he has caught four passes for 51 yards including a touchdown against Tulsa. Last week, he caught a pass for 23 yards against LSU.
You caught a pass during the touchdown drive last week where you guys at with diversity in the offense?
“I think we have guys that can do a lot of different things,” Gunter said. “I think it’s good to see, we started a little bit slow this past week, but it was good to get our offense going against a defense like LSU that is known for having a top team every year. That was something good and we look for that momentum rolling into this week.”
How does the Mississippi State defense rank to LSU?
“They definitely do,” Gunter said. “Just watching them on film they have a lot of players that stand out. I think their defensive line is the unit that kinda makes them go. Se we’re gonna have to match their physicality.”
What have you seen from their linebackers and safeties?
“They’re definitely good,” Gunter said. “They are fast and athletic. I think that we can use our tight ends and get some matchups that are more favorable to us. Maybe on a linebacker or safety and create a mismatch there.”
Do you know how many family members will be there?
“A lot of my dad’s family who live in Alabama on the west side of Alabama will be able to come to this game because they are closer,” Gunter said. “They are excited for that. I’ve got a bunch of family coming.”
What do you tell your teammates about the cowbells and how do you guys plan to attack that?
“It’s definitely different having a noisemaker like that,” Gunter said. “It does make a little bit of an impact, but we have been on the road before and we have had crowd noise. I think we will be prepared for it.”
During Tuesday’s practice it was like 30 degrees outside and some guys in shorts. Was that part of the preparation?
“I guess that kinda depends on where you’re from,” Gunter said. “Me being from Mississippi it doesn’t get too cold down there so I had to layer up as you can see here. But I guess some guys are just a little bit tougher than I am.”
The windchill was in the 20’s could you feel it out there?
“Definitely could,” Gunter said. “We were on and off pretty quick so it wasn’t too bad.”
Since Ty Storey became quarterback it seems the tight ends are getting more balls thrown to them. Is that the case?
“I think that just comes from trust,” Gunter said. “Just getting here in the offseason and getting acquainted with all the quarterbacks. Ty has been the guy just getting that chemistry in the offseason kinda been big.”
Arkansas and Mississippi State will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning in Davis Wade Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.