FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Zach Hocker wasted little time coming to the point during his first meeting with new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.
Hocker, already one of the most accomplished kickers in Razorbacks' history entering his season season, told Bielema shortly after his hiring last December that wanted to achieve more. He wanted to add the job of punter to his field goal and kickoff duties.
Bielema promised to consider Hocker's request that day, though he made it clear he'd have to earn all the jobs. Hocker proved himself that throughout preseason camp, and when Arkansas opens its season next week against Louisiana-Lafayette, he'll be a one-man ensemble at the kicker position.
The collection of pressure-packed jobs might be more than some can handle. But Hocker views his newly added duty as just a return to the same workload he handled in high school.
"I'm going to compete at anything I can," Hocker said. "If I was in the running for a field position, I'm going to try my hardest to get on the field."
Hocker's health was initially one of Bielema's biggest concerns as it became clear the kicker was Arkansas' best option at each position. To alleviate any worries about overworking him, Bielema monitored the kicker's workload during preseason camp.
It's a philosophy of quality over quantity that Bielema plans to carry into the season — giving Hocker Wednesdays and Fridays off from practice during the week in an attempt to keep his right leg fresh.
"We've got to make sure we don't, obviously, tap out his leg," Bielema said.
Hocker enters this season with 287 points in his career, just seven shy of the school record Bill Burnett set from 1968-70, and he's just 12 field goals short of tying Todd Wright's career school record of 60.
The Russellville, Ark., native provided an element of stability when took the field for the Razorbacks, connecting on 16 of 19 field goals as a freshman during the 2010 season. He followed that up with a 21-of-27 effort as a sophomore, setting the school single-season record for points by a kicker with 118.