FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Senior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady is having a very good season.
O’Grady won the John Mackey Tight End of the Week Award for his performance against Texas A&M on Sept. 28. The Aggies won the game 31-27, but O’Grady finished with eight receptions for 91 yards.
O’Grady had a pass intended for him deflected and fall incomplete on Arkansas’ final offensive play against the Aggies. Barry Lunney Jr., who coaches the tight ends, walked off the field with O’Grady, but declined to say what he told him.
“That was really just kind of between him and I,” Lunney said. “That was just time for a coach that’s been with a guy for five years after a tough moment. He played his heart out. Just trying to encourage him and get him off the field. Tough loss. Obviously seniors have a tendency to take those more difficult, more personal than others, because they know that’s their last chance they’re going to be in that stadium. I was encouraging him. For the most part that’s between he and I.”
This season, O’Grady has caught 18 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown. That one was an incredible catch and run against Colorado State. He broke numerous tackles on his way to the end zone. Lunney talked about what he told O’Grady on the headsets following the 62-yard touchdown.
“That seems like a month ago,” Lunney said. “Yeah, that was kind of one of those head-shaking deals. Honestly it didn’t surprise me. It was a phenomenal play. But honestly, anybody who’s been following him — I started watching him when he was a sophomore at Fayetteville High School or whatever. He just has the knack for doing that. He’s just a load to tackle and he just has something innate in him.
“I wish to say, I think I joked with them saying ‘That drill we did really paid off.’ I don’t think there’s many drills for simulating that many people trying to tackle you and you running through it. That’s something he’s always brought to the table and we certainly need that from him down the stretch here.”
Overall, it has been a lot of O’Grady since he missed the first game against Portland State following knee surgery. That was particularly the case against the Aggies.
“Honestly, the plan going into the game was to rotate a little bit more than we did, but when a guy’s got the hot hand, you know, and he did,”Lunney said. “He had an extremely hot hand and we just kind of let that ride out. Really, he’s on the threshold of playing too few snaps. It’s getting up there quite a bit, and he’s held up pretty well as far as conditioning and being able to run in the fourth quarter. He looked fresh, you know, and he was making those catches for us.
“That’s something we’ve certainly sat back and looked at and evaluated because I think we have some other guys – we do – that are capable to help play winning football for us, and they’ve shown that at times during the year. They practice really hard, and we’d like them to continue to get opportunities like that. It was really more to do with the hot hand and I think we could all recognized. I think if I’d have taken him out then my wife would have been able to recognize, you just took the guy out who had the hot hand, she would have been able to recognize that as well.”
Now that O’Grady has played as he did against Texas A&M, Lunney wants to see that in the Kentucky game as well.
“Played good the other night,” Lunney said. “The best he’s played in a while, just from top to bottom. He wasn’t perfect by any means. But as far as just the week of preparation and the way he stayed engaged in the game and competed from top to bottom, that was his best game. We need more of that this coming week.”
Arkansas will face Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 6:30 CT in Lexington. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.