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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas center Ty Clary blocks a Colorado State defender during a game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Fayetteville. - Photo by Ben Goff

FAYETTEVILLE -- Come 2021, the Razorbacks and Ty Clary likely will regret he didn't redshirt one of those two seasons he should have, but couldn't.

For now, Arkansas' junior center from Fayetteville says those lumps he absorbed playing ahead of his time clocked him on time for his nationally recognized performance last week.

Clary was Pro Football Focus' collegiate center of the week for excelling in Arkansas' 55-34 victory over Colorado State. He opened by obliterating two Rams, clearing the way for running back Rakeem Boyd's 59-yard touchdown, and never let up.

"Ty Clary played the best game I've seen him play since he's been here," Arkansas second-year coach Chad Morris said. "He continues to improve."

An underdeveloped walk-on scheduled to redshirt, as nearly all true freshmen offensive linemen do, Clary preseason emerged the best lineman in his 2017 freshman class. So with O-line depth threadbare, Clary played all 12 games for Bret Bielema's 4-8 2017 Razorbacks. He started the first four at guard.

Morris likely hankered redshirting Clary last year but had to play him every game. Clary opened as an embattled guard. He closed as the embattled starting center on a 2-10 team.

Two years knocked backwards thrust him forward, Clary asserts.

"Starting out as a freshman it definitely was tough," Clary said. "But I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. Because it helps me right now. Just game experience and knowing what to expect."

Clary's emergence nationally may seem an overnight sensation.

It isn't, Morris said. From the weightroom through the film room, Clary persevered.

"Ty continues to change his body," Morris said. "I think that has really showed up gaining the strength, gaining the flexibility."

He progressed from getting schooled by older, stronger SEC D-linemen.

Now Clary (6-4, 285) is the one older, stronger and assertive. Not only vs. opponents but within his team.

"One of our guys kind of screwed up the pass protection and Ty went over there and jumped him pretty good," offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said. "He's really taking a leadership role."

A once acquiescing voice now in lead.

"I definitely would not have done that last year," Clary said. "Just because I didn't feel it was my place. But this year I feel they have given me a little more responsibility just with a little bit of age."

The player Clary corrected responded with a "thanks, I needed that," Clary said.

Clary acknowledged correcting anyone this time last year would have exemplified poor snap judgment. For struggling with the shotgun snaps in Morris' offense affected Clary's total game.

"That was my huge focus in the offseason, snaps, snaps, snaps," Clary said. "The quarterback has got to get the ball. So I know if I'm confident I'm going to get him the ball accurately then I can block better."

Now he snaps to national attention.

"I think a lot of things added up to where he is today," Craddock said. "He's playing very well for us."

Sports on 09/21/2019

Print Headline: Clary emerging as o-line leader

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