O’Grady gives Arkansas a boost after early season suspension

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              FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2016, file photo, Arkansas's Cheyenne O'Grady, left, runs down the sideline as he is pursued by Virginia Tech's Andrew Motuapuaka, right, during the first half of the Belk Bowl NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C. O’Grady missed Arkansas’ first two games of the season while suspended, and he saw little action in the next two. The junior tight end has emerged as one of the Razorbacks top offensive options in the last two games, however, including a two-touchdown effort against No. 1 Alabama last week. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Cheyenne O’Grady is making up for lost time at Arkansas.

The tight end grabbed seven passes for 48 yards and scored two touchdowns against top-ranked Alabama over the weekend, giving the offense some much-needed variety in what has been a difficult year under first-year coach Chad Morris. Difficult for O’Grady, too, who was suspended.

In an early September tweet, senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw implored O’Grady to attend classes and workouts, an indication of what had led to the suspension decision by Morris. Some wondered if O’Grady had grown up since a 2015 DWI arrest, which happened when he was an 18-year-old freshman. He was suspended indefinitely at the time and redshirted.

Over the next two seasons, the 6-foot-4 O’Grady had 24 receptions and only three touchdowns. And then came the trouble early this season.

“We’re not perfect and sometimes you just need your friend to come in and tell you, ‘Hey, you’ve got to pick up,'” Greenlaw said. “We all need that person.”

This season, O’Grady is on pace to easily post his best numbers despite the suspension. With his size, hands and blocking ability, a strong finish in all aspects of his final year on campus could mean a chance at the next level.

“Coach Morris has a rule to be where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to do to the best of your ability,” O’Grady said. “That’s what I’ve been really pressing on.”

Prior to the offense’s 31-point output against the Tide, the Hogs were on a three-game stretch in which they hadn’t scored more than 17. After scoring only three at Auburn on Sept. 22, the Razorbacks‘ 17 against Texas A&M looked much better than the same score they put up in a 27-point loss to North Texas on Sept. 15.

O’Grady’s increase in production directly correlates with the higher final scores. Arkansas (1-5, 0-3 SEC) faces Mississippi (4-2, 0-2) on Saturday in Little Rock.

“O’Grady has been a big spark for us,” junior quarterback Ty Storey said. “He’s really come along, and you can see the raw talent the guy has. I think it’s important for us to keep improving on that, still keep coming to work every day. He’s going to be a huge factor for us going forward.”

Morris said sometimes the hard lessons are the most important ones.

“The message was sent loud and clear, and I think he heard it loud and clear, so it’s really good to see him progress,” Morris said. “This is two weeks in a row that there’s been some good things happening, but what you see is on the field. What we see is off the field, too.”