Arkansas coach John L. Smith has expressed his desire to get Kiero Small on the field more and the Arkansas fullback has taken steps to be better fit for the SEC.
Small approached the coaching staff this off-season about losing a few pounds to be a bit lighter on his feet. The senior fullback said the coaching staff "would not deny" him to lose weight and is hoping he is in better shape to start the season.
"Before spring ball, I started doing cardio exercise and things of that sort," Small said. "It helped me lose weight and I've just been maintaining it."
"If you run around with a five-pound weight in your pocket, you'll see the difference," Small said. "I actually got stronger and losing the weight made me get faster, or at least I feel faster, and it helps me in the workouts."
With his slightly more slim look, the senior will get a chance to play linebacker and said it should not be hard to transition from offense to defense.
"I'm all for (playing linebacker)," Small said. "Coach John L. and I talked about it one time before. He said he'd like for me to be out on the field a lot more as a depth thing. It's not me starting, but I'm all for it. I played linebacker the two years before I got here and barely played fullback.
"After I learn the terminology and know where I'm supposed to be lined up, once they snap the ball it is pretty much instincts. I don't think it's going to be a difficult move. During the few reps that I did take at linebacker, I did pretty well."
The defense, that will feature a new-look Small at times, also has a new-look with defensive coordinator Paul Haynes. After scrimmaging against the defense throughout the spring, Small said the change between coordinators was evident.
"Coach Paul (Haynes) is a great guy and he and Coach (Taver) Johnson came in here with a whole 'nother swag," Small said. "They're great guys and I've been learning a lot from them. I like it a lot."
"In the spring going against the defense, they looked a lot different. They were more of a downhill, in your face defense and cause a lot of havoc. I like the way Coach Paul has them boys playing."
Up front, the defensive lineman will see some change, as well. The big boys are not going to move nearly as much as they may be used to and senior defensive tackle Alfred Davis said he is an advocate of this change.
"A lot of the time, when you do a lot of movement with your defensive line, it's because the pass rush isn't there," Davis said. "That's how people have felt about our defensive line in the past, but Coach Haynes trusts us to leave us stationary and let us be football players. I think it's going to be for the best."