Swinging The Bat
With the addition of arguably the state of Mississippi's best prep wide receiver earlier this week, Arkansas' football program found itself with a Dandy Dozen recruiting class for 2012.
Olive Branch wideout D'Arthur Cowan (6-2, 180) made Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton very happy by chosing the Razorbacks over Mississippi State and Alabama to give Arkansas 12 commits in the current class.
Cowan did so right before a photo shoot for the Jackson Clarion Ledger's Dandy Dozen – the paper's annual naming of the top 12 players in the state.
"We are real pleased with where we are," Horton said Thursday before a coach's golf outing. "There are probably a couple of others that we think are really close or private commits. So we feel really good where we are."
The Razorbacks have made it clear that they intend to fight to the finish for the nation's top recruits such as Springdale Hillcrest wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
"We are still on some really high-profile recruits that we are going to swing our bat for," Horton added. "That's one thing we have not been afraid to do since Coach Petrino has been here. He says ‘let's go swing' and we may not get them all, we are going to strike out some, but we are going to get some of them."
Horton stressed that Arkansas is looking for a certain type of kid when it comes to recruiting.
"Most importantly they have to fit a profile," Horton said. "We want our kids to look a certain way, be a certain way. There may be some kids that other people may recruit that we might not. But we feel good where we are right now."
The Razorbacks have 20 seniors on this season's roster, but could sign more than that according to Horton.
"We will sign anywhere from 20 to 25," Horton said. "Some kids may graduate early, some may transfer, some may get hurt and have to get a medical (redshirt)."
As for positional recruiting, one area that might not get hit as much as usual is the defensive line.
"You never turn down great defensive linemen, but we are pretty deep in the defensive line," Horton said.
"…This year we have got to get some secondary players, we are to be able to add three or four offensive line to our great class last year, we lose three senior wide receivers that are really good players so we have to replace them, we have to make sure we get some linebacker and we need to make sure and sign a couple of running backs."
They will do so with a focus on bringing in kids of character and that are not selfish.
"…We are going to recruit every position and we are going to try and be as thorough as we can in getting the worker and the character component and team-first guy."
The rest of July and August is not necessarily the busiest time when it comes to recruiting.
"Really you are in a time right now where all you can do is facebook," Horton said. "Starting September 1 is when you can start making phone calls again and start going out. So really the month of August is not as active a month in recruiting because they are in their two-a-days getting ready for the season and obviously we are, too. But when September first hits, that is when you hit it hard again."
Horton has landed two players out of Memphis and Cowan from nearby Olive Branch since returning to being the main Memphis area recruiter along with his Arkansas coverage duties.
Willy Robinson has moved from Louisiana to Florida, where he recently landed outside linebacker Jakarri Thomas.
"There has just been a few little tweaks," Horton said. "I have gone into Memphis and that was an area that I had not covered since my first year I was here when we got Tenarius Wright. We have scooted Willy into the panhandle of Florida more. But other than that – from a recruiting standpoint – we are pretty much status quo."
It is a great time to be in the Memphis area per Horton.
"It kinds of runs in cycles," Horton said. "Right now – and you hate to say it – but Little Rock is experiencing a little bit of a down cycle at least to me for both this year and next year.
"Memphis is a city that appears to be really strong," Horton said. "I think you are getting better coaching and the programs are a little bit better than they were four years ago when I was recruiting over there. It is a good cycle in Memphis and hopefully that can translate into us getting a few more players."
One thing that certainly benefits Arkansas' recruiting is being in the top 10-15 nationally in the preseason rankings.
"I think it really helps recruiting because they are looking in that newspaper every day or across that ticker and there is Arkansas in the top 10," Horton said.
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