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Mitchell Loewen growing into role with Razorbacks
July 15, 2012 - Robert Collias
I talked to former Lahainaluna standout Mitchell Loewen earlier this month about his progress with the Arkansas football program. The result of that interview — Loewen is the first MIL athlete to play football at an SEC school — can be read here.
A few highlights, some of which made the story, some of which didn't:
—Loewen (a 140-pound wrestler as a freshman) lost in the MIL semifinals in double overtime to eventual state champion Jonathan Pico in his last wrestling match at 160 pounds as a Luna sophomore, was an MIL All-Star linebacker at 6-2, 190 pounds as a junior, and had filled out to 6-4, 245 pounds as a senior linebacker when he was the MIL Defensive Player of the Year. He played basketball as a senior and didn't see much playing time for an MIL championship team dominated by guards.
"I kind of wish I had kept wrestling — I think I could have won the state (heavyweight) title," Loewen said. I agree. Completely.
—A driving force for Loewen is paying back the $20,000 or so he is borrowing per year from his grandfather, Mac McClain, to pay for school fees as a Razorback walk-on.
"I just want to stay concentrating on earning a scholarship, show the coaches that I'm worth it," Loewen said. IMHO, that won't take long.
—Defense is where Loewen wants to play. His father, Chuck Loewen, was an offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers from 1980-84, blocking in front of Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Fouts (Go Ducks!). The Razorbacks have tried to put him on the O-line — in part, both Chuck and Mitchell think — because of his bloodline. "I don't want to be a 300-pound guy, I don't want to be sloppy," Loewen said. "Defense is where it's at. I just love going after the ball and getting tackle, that is the best feeling."
—Loewen blew out his left knee a week before Arkansas first game in 2011, blocking Jake Bequette, a 6-5, 274-pound defensive end picked in the third round by the New England Patriots in April. Loewen is currently 6-5, 270, runs a 4.8-second 40-yard dash, and bench presses 225 pounds 26 times — those would be large numbers at an NFL Draft Combine, right now.
"Jake is the guy who did it to me," Loewen said. "He was going to do a speed rush and I was going out to get him. Then he cut back hard inside and I went to go with him and it just folded underneath me. I knew something was wrong because it just didn't feel right, it felt like the whole thing dislocated. . . . Jake came over and said he didn't mean for that to happen."
—Loewen said he thinks he will start fall camp on defense. "I'm going to probably play defensive end, but they are looking at playing me either three technique (three-point stance) or stand-up," he said. "They don't know yet. They are just going to look at me in fall camp and see how I do."
Like the college recruiters who didn't catch up with Loewen's lightning-quick growth, I'm not sure the Arkansas coaches know what they have already.
Loewen told me the coach I should call to talk about him was the Steve Caldwell, the defensive line assistant. After making two of those calls, I phoned the SID, who said I would hear from another defensive coach. A day later, the same SID told me that I would be talking to offensive line coach Chris Klenakis because that was Loewen's actual position — he played all of spring drills at OT, but then entered the spring game as a defensive end.
Please let me be perfectly clear: ALL of the Arkansas folks were gracious and more than helpful. They will find out how much of a player they have and would already know if Loewen hadn't blown out his knee.
Their fans have been excited about Loewen since reading our story a year ago detailing his invite to walk on. These Hogs' faithful are even more into Loewen's potential on this site.
We have been first to report all of Loewen's highlights for his entire career and will continue to do so, so stay tuned right here.
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