Dan Skipper was back an old familiar spot during practice Monday. So was Brian Wallace.
FAYETTEVILLE - Dan Skipper: Hint dropper.
He said it himself, in not so many words. Arkansas senior offensive lineman, a four-year starter and rock of the unit, a preseason All-American, Skipper was asked over the weekend if he was glad to be the one staying.
"That's not for sure yet," he said, not-so-subtly.
In an offseason replete with movement, Skipper had been the only one yet to go elsewhere. He was the team's right tackle.
Skipper landed on the opposite side at practice Tuesday, on the left. He played his sophomore season at left tackle. The results were mixed, but largely positive. His costly tripping penalty against Texas A&M that season not especially a product of where he played on the line. Then, last year, he was moved to the right as coach Bret Bielema and then-offensive line coach Sam Pittman moved Denver Kirkland from guard to the exterior. Skipper shifted to right tackle and he had been there ever since.
Now the most consistently stationary player on the line is Hjalte Froholdt, the left guard who has been at the position less than 20 total practices after moving from defensive tackle after last season. Froholdt figured, best he could tell, Skipper's move back over was pretty natural.
"It took him a couple steps to get into it again, since he’s been practicing at right tackle all last season and to start the spring," Froholdt said. "It’s didn’t take more than a couple of steps and a couple of kicks and he was right back where he was."
Skipper was in for Colton Jackson, the redshirt freshman who was moved to the second team. Jackson had been the starter at left tackle since the beginning of the spring. Filling in for Skipper on the right side was Brian Wallace, a player who has played left tackle, right tackle and right guard and a player who was a Bielema favorite his first year on campus, a year he ultimately redshirted.
Bielema and offensive line coach Kurt Anderson have said since March the idea with the offensive line was to put "the best five out there." Seemingly ever offensive lineman on the roster is able to play in at least two positions, as well, which increases the shuffling. It doesn't mean, however, it exacerbates any problems. Ask Bielema and the lack of any solidified position, other than perhaps Froholdt, is not a problem. It's a good thing, even. Bielema spent the last couple days, since Sunday, looking at things in the picture. Tuesday was what he came up with.
"We (had) only had three practices so I wanted to take a moment to get an in-depth look at some guys and what they’re doing, guys playing with different weight gains and losses," Bielema said.
It remains to be seen how long Tuesday's changes remain. Literally every day of practice so far, Arkansas has had a different first team unit out there. Sometimes the personnel would change, sometimes only the positions.
Skipper staying on the left and Wallace on the right would not be a surprise. Arkansas News Bureau predicted the move in March. But them moving, including either back to the interior, also remains a possibility. What seems to be clear is the narrowing of the field.
While Bielema and Anderson both said they wanted the best five as starters, the head coach went further. His preference is to find a swing-tackle, swing-guard and back-up center. That is at least one player at each spot. So the idea would be to have a total of eight offensive lineman at any given time. Right now that includes Skipper. Froholdt, Frank Ragnow, Jake Raulerson, Wallace, Jackson, Zach Rogers and some combination of junior-college transfers Deion Malone and Paul Ramirez.
Of course, at this point, the dance continues. Maybe Skipper can drop another hint.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin