Once upon a time, Alvin Bailey
was just a big old kid with some strength.
Now Bailey (6-5, 319) is a sculpted redshirt sophomore guard – a veteran expected to be one of the leaders with center Travis Swanson
(6-5, 305) on an inexperienced Razorback offensive line.
"It's something I have been readying myself to step up and do," Bailey said of being a leader. "It's a role I have played before (in high school) and one in which I feel comfortable with doing. It's my time and I am ready."
Bailey spoke Tuesday after a Razorback strength and conditioning workout that the media was allowed to view.
It included not only weight room work, but sprints, agility drills, pushing Chevrolet Avalanche trucks across one football practice field and pounding a rock for those who had excelled in the past week.
"You can see we do some pretty interesting things, but it keeps the workouts from getting monotonous," Bailey said. "It also allows you to gain chemistry working right next to the guy you are going to be working next to on the field when the going gets tough. It builds a bond that is necessary in achieving success."
That bond and chemistry will be even more important this season with Bailey and Swanson being the only two returning starters on the line.
There are a couple of other veterans in redshirt seniors Grant Cook
(6-4, 318) and Grant Freeman
(6-7, 305), both of whom have started games, but also a couple of talented newcomers pushing for time in true freshman Brey Cook
(6-7, 310) and junior college transfer Jason Peacock
There's also redshirt sophomore Anthony Oden
(6-8, 300), who was arrested over the weekend and whose status with the team is unknown at this time.
"We have a lot of new young guys and we are trying to change the face of the line," Bailey said. "We have a young group, but we have a talented group. We have some experience and we are going to just mix and match and see what is our best combination for success. We want to find the best fit, put the best five out there."
That could be using one of both of those newcomers in significant roles.
"I think both of them got out here during the spring and got adjusted to this level and that was big for them," Bailey said. "Both of them have great talent and have great careers ahead of them, but they will have to get used to the game speed and going up against another level of talent than what they have seen. Talent and drive are not a problem with either of them."
Bailey, whose dad Alvin, Sr., was a basketball player for the Razorbacks in the late 1970s, says that the new guys will learn one thing quickly once the season begins.
"Like all of us, you could dominate in high school and take plays off," Bailey said. "But that is not the case on this level. If you take one play off, you will be dominated and embarrassed on that play."
Bailey had the advantage of redshirting his freshman season, a luxury Cook and Peacock will not.
"It really helped me, but these guys had a chance to go through spring practice – which I didn't – so they are ahead of the game," Bailey said.
Bailey was part of a 2010 offensive line that got better throughout the year and made its ultimate statement by running the ball at will in the fourth quarter in the regular season finale against visiting LSU
Those drives led to the win that put Arkansas
in its first BCS bowl.
"That was not only the offensive line, but the tight end and the running backs all just coming together at the right time, all that hard work we put in paying off," Bailey said. "That is what this offensive line will be working toward – getting better every summer workout, every practice and every play of every game. I have confidence in these guys we have."
Arkansas is a trendy Top 10 to Top 15 pick nationally in preseason prognostications.
Bailey said he believes that is accurate and that this year's Razorback team believes it will excel at a high level.
"As a team, our confidence level is a whole lot higher," Bailey said. "Everybody is all working together, everybody has everybody's back. It's going to be a great season. We are putting in the time and effort now that will pay off during the season."
Arkansas redshirt sophomore Alvin Bailey (6-5, 319), expected to be a leader on an inexperienced offensive line this season, was one of the Razorbacks putting in some hard work on Tuesday as the media got to take in a summer strength and conditioning workout.