Arkansas' Recruiting Success

In his weekly column, Dudley E. Dawson writes about how the big three revenue-producing sports at Arkansas all have top five nationally-ranked 2011 recruiting classes. This story is free and sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner.

In my nearly 25 years of covering University of Arkansas recruiting, this is the first time I can ever remember being able to say the following at Christmas time.

Or any time for that matter.

The Arkansas football team, the Razorback basketball team and the baseball team all have Top Five recruiting classes nationally.

That's just phenomenal and a testament to just how hard the three staffs have worked to secure the future for the Razorbacks in those three sports.

The baseball team was in the College World Series in 2009, the football team has just grabbed its first BCS Bowl berth and the basketball team – while down the last year-and-half – is off to an 8-2 start before the arrival of the holidays and has a star-studded class coming in next season.

"I think what a lot of people see right now at Arkansas is sports programs that have great coaches, great players already there and a lot coming," 2011 football commit Brandon Allen said recently. "It's a great time to be a Razorback."

One of the overriding things about these three classes is the ability to keep most of the best talent in-state and headed to Fayetteville instead of to its competitors.

The Razorback programs have landed the state's highest ranked 2011 prospect in all three sports with Springdale Har-Ber offensive lineman Brey Cook (6-7, 310), East Poinsett County hoops star Rashad Madden (6-5, 180) and Searcy pitcher Dillon Howard all pledged to come to Fayetteville.

It was important to land that trio as well as the vast majority of the other top prospects even if that mythical fence that surrounds the state will likely always have a hole of some size in it.

Per Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, you then have to look beyond the borders of our small state.

"You have to work on getting the best players in your state first, the ones that fit what you are doing," Petrino said, "and then work your way out to the other areas that you recruit and get the best possible mix of talent you can to make your program successful. Certainly you have to have talent to be successful, but it is also very much about evaluation and development of the student-athletes."

The football team leaped from No. 10 in rankings all the way up to No. 5 with the addition of highly-touted cornerback Tevin Mitchel of Mansfield (Texas) Legacy and then landed Glendora (CA) Citrus College offensive lineman Jason Peacock (6-5, 325) on Thursday.

Mitchel, the son for former Arkansas prep star and Oklahoma quarterback Eric Mitchel, flipped from Nebraska and gives the Razorbacks one of the nation's best cover cornerbacks.

"I thought about it and I would like to come back home," Mitchel said.

As Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recently said, the Razorback football team basically has its big boy pants on and the nation has noticed.

"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.'"

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