New Facilities Making Impact
When Arkansas' three official football visitors get here this weekend, they will no doubt hear about Bobby Petrino's plans for the future of the Razorback program.
A future that includes a new proposed football operations facility – one that will run somewhere from $24-36 million - and is poised to elevate the UA's off-field looks for its support facilities to tops in the SEC and nationally.
"It puts a huge smile on my face," said Petrino, Arkansas head coach. "This is a great deal for us. The design is awesome. I can't say enough about how much it will help us be a better football team. It will help us in recruiting when everyone comes to campus and sees that."
The fact that Arkansas has done so well in its 2011 recruiting class is a testament to the hard work put in by the Razorbacks staff.
The staff has tossed out its vision for updates on the new infrastucture, a pitch that was delivered right away to Arizona prep linebacker Brock Haman. He committed to the Razorbacks after his official visit.
"One of the first things that told me was that they had this grand plans for upgrading the locker rooms," said Haman, whose season ended because of a fractured scapula. "They wanted to make sure I knew that. The locker room wasn't that bad, but they really want to have a great one and that's exciting as a recruit coming into the program."
Now the recruits can marvel as much about everything else as they do the weight room.
"Our program is trying to do everything first class and this is just another example of that," junior defensive end Jake Bequette said. "We are going to be able to compete with anybody on and off the field year in and year out. We are already getting there and this is the type of thing that just puts you over the top."
The Razorbacks are coming off arguably their best ever in-season recruiting weekend with three 4-star prospects going public with commits.
Adding in Texas prep tight end Chris Barnett (6-6, 250), Virginia prep wideout Quinta Funderburk (6-4, 205) and Arizona cornerback Kelvin Fisher, Jr. (5-11, 180) vaulted Arkansas from 20th to ninth in the 2011 team rankings.
They'll look to move up even more with three official visitors this weekend in Las Vegas (NV) Liberty defensive end Sam Tai (6-4, 240), Lakawanna (PA) Community College linebacker Josh Francis (6-2, 225 and Florida prep defensive tackle Lonnie Gosha (6-2, 295).
Tai, who got an offer from UCLA on Sunday to push his total to 15, is the only one who has been on campus to this point. He came for one of the Razorbacks' football camps and was told of the improvements planned.
"They let me know they were really going to update the locker rooms," Tai said. "I am sure that they are going to really go over that this weekend with me once I get there on Friday.
"I am not surprised at all that they are taking this step," Tai added. "Arkansas is an outstanding program with great coaches and that is one of the big reasons that I am really looking hard at them when it comes to choosing where I am going to play my college football."
Tai, a mid-term graduate, said Wednesday night that Arkansas and UCLA are the top schools on his list. Obviously, Los Angeles is a lot closer to Las Vegas than Fayetteville.
"It will be a factor, but it won't be the factor," Tai said. "My friends are all excited about the UCLA offer because they think I might go there and they would be able to come see me play.
"I have a great support system here in Vegas, but my family wants me to make the best decision for me."
Tai will take his official visit to Arkansas this weekend and then take an unofficial trip to UCLA.
"UCLA wants me to come on my official visit early in December when they would have more time to spend with me," Tai said. "My plan is to take the visits to Arkansas and UCLA, really look hard at both of them, and then choose one of them pretty early in December."
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