< In the past few years, Arkansas' staff has gone as far as Arizona, California, New Jersey and even Canada to land some defensive help.
For the 2013 class, the Razorbacks might just have to go down the street for a pair of defensive standouts.
Fayetteville linebacker Brooks Ellis (6-2, 213) and safety Alex Brignoni (6-1, 190) are two of the state's top defenders.
Ellis – along with Fayetteville quarterback Austin Allen (6-2, 217) – already have offers from Arkansas while Brignoni appears on the verge of getting one.
"I am definitely hoping to get an offer from Arkansas," Brignoni said. "They want me to go to the summer camp so they can see me. Most of their kids get offered at the summer camps. We'll see how it goes, but I have a good feeling about it."
Ellis and Allen both got their offers on the 2012 national signing date and joined Brignoni in participating in the Northwest Arkansas EAE combine in Bentonville on Sunday.
"I am very honored to get an offer from Arkansas," said Ellis, who has Illinois, Tulsa and Arkansas State.
Ellis had 130 tackles in 2010 while being named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year.
He followed that up with being named the paper's overall Defensive Player of the Year with 92 tackles, 13 ½ sackls and 12 other tackles for lost yardage as a junior.
"I think I am pretty fast from side-to-side, have good quickness," Ellis said. "I am not that big, but I am pretty tall and have the frame to put on some weight."
All three of the aforementioned Fayetteville players attended Arkansas' first 2012 Junior Day last Saturday.
"It's weird," Ellis said. "I had actually never been inside the facilities and all the coaches were really nice. It was a great time."
Ellis played safety as a sophomore before moving back to his natural position of linebacker as a junior.
"I think it helped me in my coverage," Ellis said. "So when I went back to linebacker – where I have played all my life – I was an even better one."
Brignoni, who has an offer from Arkansas State, had 127 tackles, 10 interceptions (two that he returned for touchdowns) and 11 passes broken up this season and feels like baseball has something to do with that.
"It's kind of like playing baseball and tracking the ball in the outfield," Brignoni said. "I use that on the football field. That is probably my best asset. My speed is alright right now, but I would really like to get faster."
Fayetteville is coming off a state championship season in which it scored on fourth down with no time left and then beat Bentonville on a 2-point conversion pass.
"It was a great ending," Ellis said. "I don't know how it could have been any better than that."
Brignoini echoed that sentiment.
"It was a feeling that I can't put into words," Brignoni said. "We worked so hard from the beginning of the season and had a goal to win state. We were just so blessed it came true."
Ellis is hoping a repeat is in the cards for 2012.
"We have a lot of starters coming back on both sides of the ball," Ellis said. "We will need some help at the receiver position, but I think we are going to be pretty good and have a chance at another state title."
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