FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas freshman Ty Clary started his first game before receiving a scholarship. What’s more impressive is how he performed at right guard in the Hogs’ season-opening 49-7 victory last Thursday.
Clary received a grade of 91 percent for his performance, offensive line coach Kurt Anderson told reporters Wednesday.
At this point, Clary is essentially a walk-on. He was a blueshirt addition in the 2017 recruiting class, meaning he won’t be placed on scholarship until the 2018 spring semester.
“He played extremely well,” Anderson said. “But that’s what he did the last two weeks of camp. For a freshman to go in there his first game and grade out at 91 percent … pretty outstanding first time out.”
Clary’s grade matched starting center Frank Ragnow, and was higher than right tackles Johnny Gibson (90) and left tackle Colton Jackson (87). Left guard Hjalte Froholdt (94) received the highest grade.
A Fayetteville native, Clary was a surprise starter. He was listed as a backup on the depth chart a week ahead of the game. Coach Bret Bielema indicated the staff made the decision to start Clary “about 10 days” ahead of the opener, but opted to not make the decision public in an effort to take some pressure off him.
With Clary in the starting lineup, Gibson moved from right guard to right tackle and junior Brian Wallace was bumped out. Wallace was a starter for much of last season.
Anderson doesn’t want Clary labeled as a walk-on, either. He insists had the circumstances been different with the 2017 recruiting class, Clary would’ve been offered an immediate scholarship. The Razorbacks signed three players Anderson views as tackles — Kirby Adcock, Shane Clenin and Dalton Wagner — in the 2017 class.
“I think we’ve got to be careful with declaring [Clary] a [walk-on],” Anderson said. “Here’s the reality of the situation, we needed tackles on the roster and we went out and recruited three tackles. When he was in camp and what was communicated to him throughout the entire process, I told him from Day 1 if I had a guard position [need], you’d be the first guard that I would offer in this country because of the way that he played. I think that was part of the reason why Ty came here.”
Clary is set to make his second start Saturday when Arkansas faces TCU (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS).
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