Crush At The Bus

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson writes about how the success of Arkansas' 2012 grid recruiting has left them being very selective for the final few spots left to fill. This story is free and sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers.

I've been covering Arkansas football recruiting for some 25 years now and never have I seen an end game like the one that is going on now.

I like to call it "The Crush At The Bus."

Basically you have more prospects wanting seats on the bus than you have seats available.

It has left the Arkansas coaches having to be being very selective in how they are handling things.

The SEC's new hard cap of 25 signees makes taking an academic risk out of the question – and you must sign the best 25 you can get.

Arkansas currently has 20 commits and is ranked 11th nationally in the team rankings.

Evidence of that is how there have been at least two prospects that have committed to Arkansas in recent days that may or may not be in the 24 signees announced next week.

The 25th member of the class is former Los Angeles (CA) Harbor defensive end Austin Flynn (6-5, 255), who enrolled at mid-term.

Arkansas is no longer going to bring in Florida prep linebacker Jakarri Thomas (6-2, 190), who quickly committed to Vanderbilt when informed of the decision.

Next up is North Bergen (NJ) High and Parade All-American linebacker Vin Ascolese (6-2, 220), who will announce his decision Friday at noon CST between Arkansas, Illinois and Texas A&M.

Ascolese visited Arkansas and Illinois, but decided to not take an official visit to A&M this weekend.

"I went down there when I was like in the eighth grade so I know what it is all about and I am just anxious to get this decision announced and out of the way," Ascolese said. "My aunt has a really nice house so I am having it there and inviting the media over."

Ascolese had 137 tackles last season (57 for lost yardage) with 12 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions while leading his team to a 14-0 record and state title.

It was a great going away present for his grandpa Vinnie, who had decided to retire as the head coach before the season started.

"It was a great way to end things," Ascolese said. "We both went out on top."

Ascolese, who was scheduled to host Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino for a home visit on Thursday, took his official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 13-15 and left amazed.

He has carried on a running conversation with Razorback fans via twitter.

"Arkansas fans are just awesome, so supportive and have just showed me so much love even before my trip down there," Ascolese said.

"Then I took my visit and the place was just amazing," Ascolese said. "Amazing facilities, amazing coaches and players. It is everything that you would expect one of the nation's top football programs to be like."

Ascolese then took a visit to Illinois on Jan. 20-22.

"Illinois was also a very nice place and I really like their new head coach – Tim Beckman," noted Ascolese, who hosted Beckman on Thursday afternoon. "He really seems like he knows what he is doing."

Texas A&M jumped into the mix after he got back from Illinois.

"A&M is a great school as well, but it is kind of late in the process so I didn't feel the need for a trip down there – especially since I had already been and it is time for me to announce and be done with it," Ascolese said.

The Razorbacks will also host three players on official visits this weekend.

That trio includes pair of Arkansas commitments in Memphis Ridgeway defensive end Brandon Lewis (6-5, 230) and Tulsa (OK) Booker T. Washington cornerback Jared Collins (5-10, 170).

Arkanss is also bringing in Covington (LA) linebacker and Tennessee commitment Otha Peters (6-2, 210).

Vin Ascolese

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