While it is hard to quantify just what getting into a BCS Bowl will mean for the future of Arkansas recruiting, it certainly has perked up the ears of prospects.
Razorback offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said that the program – which will host around a dozen or so players on official visits this weekend - has already seen a shift in the mindset of some big-time players that were wondering if Arkansas really was one of the big boys.
"We play on television a lot so a lot of kids get to see our games, but now you are one of the top 10 teams in the country and you are headed to a BCS game," McGee said. "So there were some recruits that were ‘I don't know about Arkansas, I really like the facilities, I see them play on television, they are going to throw for a lot of yards, but I am not quite sure.' Now they are sure and saying ‘this is a place I want to go.'"
The current 2011 Arkansas recruiting class – 24 commits strong - was already ranked eighth in nationally per Scout.com before beating LSU and grabbing that BCS berth and Sugar Bowl date against Ohio State.
"We want to finish strong, really strong," McGee said.
The Razorbacks had seven coaches on the road recruiting last week and got the reception they were hoping for per head coach Bobby Petrino.
"It's been very good," Petrino said. "A lot of people watched the game. It was a big game so everybody understands we beat LSU and we had a chance to be in a BCS bowl game and we got the good news this weekend."
Arkansas will get a chance to build on that momentum this weekend as it brings in a talented mix of junior college and high school players this weekend.
The juco standouts Arkansas is hoping to have in this weekend are Butler County (KS) Community College defensive end Cornellius Carradine (6-5, 255) – who could visit Ohio State instead - offensive linemen Aaron Douglas (6-6, 285) of Arizona Western College and Jason Peacock (6-5, 325) of Glendora (CA) Citrus CC and Razorback linebacker commit Alonzo Highsmith (6-1, 215) of Phoenix College.
The first three of those are mid-term graduates and would be able to go through spring practice with the Razorbacks.
"We always go out and if we are recruiting a junior college player, we are recruiting him for a specific need," Petrino said. "Such as a senior that is graduating and they (the recruit) have an opportunity to come in and compete to start. They get the reps to see if they are good enough to start for us. That is really the only reason I like to recruit junior college guys. Other than that, I would just like to recruit all high school players."
The high school players scheduled to take official visits this weekend include a trio of Razorback commits in Springdale Har-Ber offensive lineman Brey Cook (6-7, 310), Coffeyville (KS) CC defensive lineman Robert Thomas (6-3, 330) and Nowata (OK) defensive lineman Austin Beck (6-8, 295).
The Razorbacks will also be looking to flip Arkansas native and Nebraska cornerback commit Tevin Mitchel (6-1, 180) and LSU offensive line pledge Trai Turner (6-4, 330) of New Orleans St. Augustine.
They are also looking to get good news from linebackers Cedrick Cooper (6-2, 207) of Lithonia, Ga, and Ramik Wilson (6-3, 220) of Tampa (FL) Jefferson, tight end/defensive end Jack Tabb (6-4, 235) of Red Bank (NJ) Catholic and Bainbridge (GA) High athlete Rohan Gaines (5-11, 180).
With the Razorbacks having a bowl practice schedule for Saturday, Petrino is excited about the timing of having the recruits on campus and his current players here to host them.
Petrino has always stressed how big a factor the Razorbacks themselves play in recruiting.
"That is really what I believe," Petrino said. "I believe that our players have to do a good job of selling our program. The recruits that come in ask questions of our players and find out if these are the type of guys I want to be around for the next four or five years. I think it is real important that we get them here.
"It is a good time because they will get to watch us practice, they will get to go out and stand and watch our individual drills, watch how we operate, watch the competition that they are going to have coming in so I think it is a great weekend for a visit," Petrino added.
Arkansas has had assistants Reggie Johnson, Tim Horton and Bobby Allen on the road this week recruiting and thus missing practice.
"That is something that is not ideal, but you have to do it," Petrino said. "We have to decide who stays in practice and who hits the road. It is not something that you like to do, but something you have to do at this time of year."
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