State of the Hogs: Evaluations

Stars are important, but evaluations reign supreme with Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. The proof is on the field.

The national recruiting guru made my case for me this week on Bo Mattingly's radio show. He said Arkansas has not recruited well at defensive tackle.

I've said for a long time those experts don't know Arkansas high school football. Or, better yet, they aren't up on some of the players who come from the off-the-beaten path spots on the road.

How about Byran Jones from Junction City? How about Dede Jones from Bastrop, La.? Both were rated as three-star recruits by several national services.

Arkansas won Byran Jones in a tight battle with Auburn. Dede Jones committed to Michigan early, and then flipped to the Hogs.

How about Alfred Davis or Robert Thomas? Both were rated as two stars when they came out of high school. Thomas was upgraded to a three-star prospect after two years in junior college.

I'm reminded of the lack of rating for Shawn Andrews late in his junior year in Camden. I called the national expert at Scout.com at the time, the service Hawgs Illustrated lines up with on the Internet. He had never heard of Andrews.

I promised him Andrews was going to be a No. 1 draft pick in three seasons. He would start as a true freshman whether he picked Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, Southern Cal, Penn State or Florida. Those were the headliners among his 50 or so offers at that time.

OK, I was told. They'd move him to a four-star, maybe all the way to five. That was before requesting tape of Andrews. See, it doesn't matter how they play, only who is courting these big uglies.

Stars do matter. If you sign only five-star recruits, the chances are your team will be good. But there are other things that matter as much. Are you filling needs? Are you good at the one position that is the most critical, quarterback?

It all comes crashing down if you are void at quarterback. We've seen that up close and personal at Arkansas.

Fortunately, Arkansas will never have that problem under Bobby Petrino. Quarterbacks find him as much as he finds quarterbacks.

And when you are good at quarterback, it makes it easier to recruit everywhere else. How do you think the 2012 prospects react when Tyler Wilson shakes their hand on a visit? Or Ryan Mallett? Or Brandon Mitchell? Or Brandon Allen?

Wilson had an awesome 2011. He's the first All-SEC quarterback in school history. Now he has a chance to become the second All-America quarterback in school history. That's right, there's been only one before him, Billy Moore in 1962.

Oh, about those ratings, where did the national guys rate Wilson? He was a three-star.

I told one of them during the process they were way off base. I said the same thing last year when Brandon Allen was a three-star.

The guru was shocked when I explained Allen had thrown zero interceptions during 10 regular-season games during his senior year? Shouldn't he have known that?

Just rate me as not surprised. I've learned to trust Bobby Petrino's ratings — and development — on quarterbacks and defensive tackles.

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