With one week left before the Feb. 1 national signing date, Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino and his staff are feeling good about their 2012 recruiting haul.
But just like on the football field, Petrino knows it's not about how you start, but how you finish.
"…Like we tell our players all the time, you have to finish," Petrino said. "It's going to be important for our coaches and myself to make sure we finish and finish this class off the way we need to."
The Razorbacks have 21 commitments so far and are currently ranked 13th in the Scout.com team rankings.
Petrino has been steadfast in his belief that if he can get a prospect on the University of Arkansas campus, he can close the deal.
"I've always felt like if we can get them here and get them on campus, they get to see what our university's all about," Petrino said. "They get to sit down and meet with our professors and see the quality education they're going to get, and then see our fans. We've got as good a chance as anybody in the country to get them."
Petrino and his staff have been making home visits with key recruits this week and will be hosting five prospects this weekend.
• Jared Collins, CB, (5-11, 170), Tulsa (OK) Booker T. Washington
• Brandon Lewis, DE (6-5, 230), Memphis Ridgeway
• Otha Peters, LB, (6-1, 210), Covington, LA
• Edward Pope, S, (6-3, 175), Carthage, Texas
• Jakarri Thomas, LB, (6-2, 200) Tallahassee (FL) Godby
Petrino was beaming Saturday even before the Razorback basketball team's big win over No. 19 Michigan before a crowd of 19,050 fans.
You would too if you had just finished 11-2, won the Cotton Bowl and secured a top five finish nationally, flipped a second recruit from Missouri to move up to 12th nationally in the Scout.com recruiting rankings and were just about to take 18 of the nation's best recruits in to see a packed Bud Walton Arena and an example of the Razorback fans passion for their sports teams.
Those 18 including the nation's top recruit – Springfield (MO) Hillcrest wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (6-6, 220), who was all smiles throughout his official visit.
"First and foremost, I'm happy for our basketball program," Petrino said. "Coach (Mike) Anderson and the excitement that everything has generated right now. But it helps us a lot. When you bring recruits into a full house (19,050 fans) and they get to see our fans and they get to see the support that we have, I think it's something special."
Petrino had one of his previous class ranked as low as 36 initially only to have them jump up 30 spots when re-ranked four years later.
"We've had success because we've recruited well and developed players," Petrino said. "I think that's the one thing that people really miss a little bit on is that it's not only the recruiting, it's the development. And with our strength and conditioning staff and the beautiful weight room that we have, that we're always right on the top in technology and trying to do everything we can to try to get a young man to be the best player he can possibly be."
Petrino takes great pride in his staff's ability to evaluate and knows that sometimes stars don't mean anything.
"It's not easy," Petrino said. "You see that this guy's a five-star, this guy's a three-star. ‘Man, I think this three-star's better. That's who I'm going to go after.' So you have to have confidence in the process and we've been able to stick to the process."
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