The Razorbacks needed to stockpile talent for a line losing three starters to graduation. The Hogs' coaching staff didn't have to look far.
Springdale Har-Ber's Brey Cook, Springdale's Mitch Smothers and Bentonville's Marcus Danenhauer all played high school football against each other in the 7A West, less than 30 miles from the UA campus.
"It was great for us," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "Offensive linemen are hard to find. To have three guys right up the street that all can really play and have shown that throughout their high school career, not just one year, but have shown it throughout their high school career (is big).
"I think you'll see all three of them have an opportunity to come in and compete, and play right away. Brey has an advantage because he's here and he's around our players every day."
Arkansas graduated five offensive linemen after the 2010 season, including starters DeMarcus Love, Ray Dominguez and Wade Grayson, making the offensive line signees vital to the recruiting class.
Smothers, Cook and Danenhauer will have a chance to compete immediately for playing time.
"With Marcus, Brey and Mitch, the first thing you get is great size," offensive line coach Chris Klenakis said. "You get athleticism. You get kids that have been in the weight room and it's really a credit to the three programs – Springdale, Springdale Har-Ber and Bentonville. You're not starting from ground-zero. You're starting with three kids that have been well-coached in three outstanding programs.
"The benefit and icing on the cake is that all three grew up with Arkansas football. They've been coming to Razorback games since they were little, they understand the history of the school, they understand the tradition of the Razorbacks and they also have a lot of pride in their home state. Any time you have pride in something, you're going to work real hard to be good at it."
Cook is the class headliner. The 6-foot-7, 317-pound tackle is rated a five-star prospect by Scout.com. The website ranks him the No. 6 offensive tackle and No. 46 player in the nation. He played in the Under Armour All-American game in January, alongside Smothers.
"He's big, he's physical," Petrino said. "What we like so much about him is the way he can bend and his footwork. We anticipate Brey coming in and helping us immediately."
Cook enrolled early at the UA, is in school now and will participate in spring practice. He will be one of the main candidates to replace Love and Dominguez at offensive tackle.
"That's going to greatly benefit him because we're getting Brey ready to play," Klenakis said. "We told him that when we recruited him. We didn't pull any punches with him. We showed him the light. We showed him we'd be graduating Ray Dominguez and Demarcus Love, we'd have two spots open.
"Him being a mid-year graduate, coming into spring ball and coming into compete to play was appealing to Brey because that's the type of competitor he is."
Junior college transfer Jason Peacock (6-foot-4, 334 pounds) didn't enroll early, but is taking one online class at California Citrus College. He plans to finish the class Feb. 10 and be at the UA Feb. 11, in time for spring practice.
"It would be great, just because spring ball is a great benefit," Klenakis said about the possibility of Peacock going through spring practice. "It gets you indoctrinated into the program, the schemes and just our tempo of practice and how we do things."
The Razorbacks return just two offensive tackles – Grant Freeman and Anthony Oden – with collegiate experience. Smothers and Danenhauer will arrive on campus in the summer.
The duo, along with Cook, played in top-notch high school programs. All three schools made the playoffs in the competitive 7A-West. Danenhauer's Bentonville squad beat Cook's Har-Ber team in the semifinals, going on to win the state championship with a 13-0 record. Danenhauer also won a state title as a sophomore.
"These kids are coming out of those programs and their technique is outstanding," Klenakis said. "They've been in college-style programs. They've been in a weight room. They understand offensive-line play."
Smothers (6-4, 296) is ranked a four-star by Scout.com. He chose the Razorbacks over an Alabama offer and could play multiple positions in college.
"That's the beauty of Mitch Smothers – he's versatile," Klenakis said. "I really like that because as the season goes on, sometimes you have to move guys around in the middle of the flow and the more versatile a guy is, the better he is.
"I don't know where we'll start Mitch right now because I want to go through spring ball and see where other people line up, where they fit into the puzzle. That's the beauty, Mitch can fill any one of those spots."
Danenhauer (6-5, 315) played tackle as a senior, but projects to play guard for the Hogs.
"I see Danenhaur more as an inside guy with his body-type and his strength," Klenakis said. "He's the type of the guy that, in a phone booth, is going to be a good football player because he's just so physical. I see him more as an inside guy."
He redefined his body from when he first met Klenakis in February 2010.
"To see the transformation in his body type from where it was then to where it is now, he's slimmed up, he's gotten leaner, but he kept his size, strength and increased his mobility," Klenakis said. "I know his work ethic. His parents tell me he's out the door before 6 a.m. That's how dedicated and how hard he's working.
"I like that. I think he feels like he's got something to prove and he's excited to be with us. He took the initiative and I like that. It shows that he's well driven and he wants to be the best."
Smothers and Danenhauer verbally committed to Arkansas June 1, 2010. Cook committed in July, giving the Razorbacks a sweep of the top-notch, in-state line talent early in the recruiting season.
"That is awesome when you go right in the area here and you've got three outstanding offensive linemen – I call them national recruits because they can play anywhere in the country – right here in your backyard," Klenakis said. "They fit your needs and they grew up watching Arkansas football.
"They're familiar with Arkansas and love Arkansas football. It's a blessing just to have that happen. It was great. To have three SEC-caliber offensive linemen within a 30-mile radius of our school that grew up indoctrinated with Razorback football, that's great fortune for us."