Mitchell Loewen has worked his way to top of depth chart at tight end.
Today, that decision looks very good. Loewen was running first-team following spring drills, but with Austin Tate's shoulder injury the former walk-on without a position is scheduled to start Arkansas' opener on Aug. 31 against the University of Louisiana.
This fall, Loewen has been able to go through both of Arkansas' scrimmages and is line to play an important position in Bielema's offense.
“I feel great, I feel 100 percent,” Loewen said. “It was my ankle (last spring). Someone rolled up on my ankle.”
Barry Lunney Jr. coaches Arkansas' tight ends and the scrimmages this fall are his first chances to see Loewen scrimmage.
“It felt awesome,” Loewen said of being able to scrimmage this fall. “I want to be out there. I don't want to step off the field.”
Loewen actually started at fullback in last year's 19-15 win over Tulsa. He also saw action in games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and LSU. Loewen comes from good bloodlines since his father, Chuck Loewen, played offensive line for San Diego from 1980-84 after being drafted by the Chargers in the seventh round of the 1980 NFL Draft.
Loewen came from Lahaina (Hawai'i) Lahainaluna and redshirted in 2011. Loewen was a linebacker in high school and was named the Maui Interscholastic League Defensive Player of the Year after his senior season in which he had 140 tackles, 10 sacks and two interceptions. Loewen said he started moving around positions soon after arriving at Arkansas.
“I came in as a middle linebacker,” Loewen said. “Then they moved me to outside (LB), then they moved me down to D-end, then they moved me to D-tackle. They then moved me to guard, then to center, then back to D-tackle, then to fullback and now I'm playing tight end.”
Reeve Koehler is the second player from Hawaii on this year's football team.
Loewen has found some humor though in all the moves since his arrival at Arkansas.
“I feel I can be a pretty good high school coach once this is all said and done,” Loewen said. “Because I know pretty much every position.
“I felt that I'm going to find a home eventually. I kind of feel like a Swiss Army Knife out there, just do a little bit of everything.”
It appears Loewen has found a home at tight end and that has him elated.
“It's awesome,” Loewen said. “Now I can just concentrate on one thing and keep moving forward and keep moving forward at this new position.”
In addition to preparing him for a possible career in coaching, Loewen also feels that knowing various positions will help him at tight end.
“I know what moves the defensive linemen are going to do,” Loewen said. “I know where to attack a linebacker on route-running, because I know where he doesn't want me to go. I just put myself in their position because I've been there before.”
Loewen said he's pretty sure it wasn't Bielema who came up with the idea of moving him to tight end last spring.
“I think it was Coach (Jim) Chaney,” Loewen said. “Because I went up to Coach Bielema and said I wanted to play D-tackle right when he got here. And then he moved me, or they moved me (to tight end) within the week.”
It was a compliment to Bielema though that Loewen initially asked for the move to defensive tackle.
“Because he has a really good reputation with D-tackles,” Loewen laughed thus explaining his desire to play that position. “And D-tackle is a pretty fun position.”
Loewen said the fact he got a scholarship and was named to the top of the depth chart at the end of spring was a surprise to him considering his injury.
“I was real surprised,” Loewen said. “That's why I was so mad that I got injured and so [motivated] to get back on the field, because I wanted to get back on the field and not lose any reps.
“But it all worked out good. Thank God....There was nothing else I could do. I just had to sit back and heal up.”
The scholarship meant a lot to Loewen both from a football and financial standpoint.
“It was awesome,” Loewen said. “It felt like King Kong jumped off my back. It's a great deal. Now I don't have to worry about anything financially for the next three years, and I'm set.”
With the signing of offensive lineman Reeve Koehler this past Febuary that now gives the Razorbacks two players from Hawaii.
“I think that's crazy,” Loewen said. “I don't know if there's any other team in the SEC that has two guys from Hawaii. But we're going to do it.”
Koehler is from a different island than Loewen, but the two hit it off very early.
“Oh yeah, we talk about a bunch of stuff from home,” Loewen said. “We have a lot of inside jokes that no one really understands because we talk a different language out there pretty much. It's called Pigeon. It's like a Hawaiian slang.”
Loewen while loving it at Arkansas admitted there was an adjustment period.
“Oh, it was crazy,” Loewen said. “There's no ocean over here. I'm pretty much used to going to the ocean every day and swimming or doing something, just seeing it usually. But there's no big body of water over here, so that's the biggest transition.”
Well actually the biggest transition other than the changing of positions.