The Love Of Recruiting

Armed with a group of coaches that love recruiting and have a great work ethic, Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton turned them loose on the road and the result was the most complete and highly-ranked class in the Bobby Petrino era.

There was one thing that Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton clearly noticed about the Razorbacks' newly formatted coaching staff – one that had three new additions that would be recruiting the 2011 class.

It was a group that was not afraid to work and that was no doubt a huge factor in why the Razorbacks currently have the 16th-best recruiting class in the country according to Scout.com.

"I don't know if this is the proper thing to say, but I think we are strong nine-deep, 10-deep when you count (Arkansas head) Coach (Bobby Petrino)," Horton said. "We have got coaches that enjoy the recruiting, they enjoy getting out and getting in homes.

"I tell you what is really interesting is when you schedule coaches as to who is going out this week and who is going out next week," Horton added, "and you take somebody off the road, they are mad. I have been on some staffs when you take somebody off the road, they say ‘ooh, good, I don't have to work.'

"But this is a staff that really moves their feet in recruiting and hopefully this class will be defined how all of them are – two or three years down the road – but hopefully, we will look back and say ‘that was a really good class," Horton continued.

It helped that Arkansas coaches appear to have recruited a group of 30 players – five who are already enrolled - with an outstanding work ethic just like themselves.

"One of the things that I think has helped us win is that we don't have perfect kids, but we have got good kids," Horton said. "They are respectful and they know how to work. I think it would be an interesting survey and I could probably tell you if I got down to it of how many kids that we signed that work.

"To go to see Grady Ollison, you have got to go to Wendy's or Larry's Pizza," Horton continued. "To go see Davyon McKinney, you have got to go to Burger King. To see Kody Walker, you have got to go to the Jeff City Parks and Rec place because he is going to be painting curbs."

Oklahoma prep lineman Austin Beck actually had to drive a tractor through inclement weather to be able to fax his letter-of-intent in to Arkansas.

"There are kids that we signed that understand the value of work and I think that helps them understand the grind that it takes to be successful here," Horton said.

The final two pick-ups decision-wise were Florida prep defensive end Lonnie Gosha (6-2, 270) and Texas high school tight end and four-star prospect Andrew Peterson (6-6, 262).

Gosha chose Arkansas over Miami and others.

"That made for a very interesting morning to be real honest because it went past the 12th hour on him (Gosha)," Horton said. "That was a great get for us because anytime you can go to the state of and go against the University of whoever that may be – as we did on several of these kids – and beat them, that is good because we have got to beat those same people on Saturday."

Peterson was leaning to Arkansas since his official visit in mid-January, but the Razorback staff was nervous until it had his letter-of-intent in hand.

"He may have been past Lonnie," Horton said. "Those were two interesting cases this morning. We are really thrilled with how both of those worked out."

Peterson was a late-blooming, under-publicized player - one that was primarily used a blocker in a run-oriented offense - that blew up once his highlight tape got out.

"He is a great looking kid, he is a great kid and it is really funny," Horton said, "because if you look at his stats – if I am not mistaken – I think he may have had 10 catches in two years of high school football. It is not like he is some statistical machine. But he is a really fine athlete and a really great kid and a great person and I think he will have a great career here."

Arkansas signed seven kids from inside its state borders, prospects from 12 states overall and even a Canadian in Brett Weir.

Horton said the Razorbacks are in position to grab some of the nation's best players because of their recent success and the conference they are in.

"We have got a good name," Horton said. "Quinta Funderburk was recruited by everybody in the country, but he wanted to play in the SEC. He wanted to play in an offense where he could catch balls. Arkansas was that place for him.

"I think there are a lot of kids across the country that want to play in the SEC," Horton added. "We have got to always start in Arkansas, but we have got to expand those boundaries."

Getting to a BCS bowl is expected to help Arkansas reap a bonanza in its 2012 recruiting class.

"It helped, but at the same time there were so many that were already committed by then," Horton said, "so I think what it really did was open some doors for us in the future. We have got a good name out there right now and if we can just get them to our campus and they can see the facility and meet our people – then we have got a chance to get them."

Just as the Razorbacks make improvements on the field, they will work to improve recruiting success as well.

"We'll continue to tweak it a little bit," Horton said. "There are some areas that we really went into hard and didn't get as much out of them as we hoped. We will continue to tweak that and it is a little bit like what you do offensively or defensively – we are not going to run exactly the same plays next year. We are going to tweak our plays to give us the best chance to win and we will also do that in recruiting."


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