La Mirada (CA) junior middle linebacker Koa Kaleopaa doesn't try to hide how much he enjoyed his trip to Arkansas earlier this month.
Kaleopaa (6-2, 258), a Hawaiian native, flew over 1,500 miles into Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport along with his brother Chad Drown for the Razorbacks' March 3 Junior Day.
"We just loved it," Kaleopaa said. "Arkansas is a big-time program that plays in the SEC – the best conference out there – and they are putting themselves in position to win a national championship soon."
Kaleopaa, who got an offer from Arkansas the following week and also has offers from Colorado Arizona and California, raved about what he saw while in Fayetteville.
"I got to see a lot of the campus, see their great facilities and meet with the coaches," Kaleopaa said. "Their facilities are already great, but they are reworking them and they are going to have even better ones. They are putting themselves in position to win it all."
"The weight room is just amazing," Kaleopaa added. "It's as long as a football field."
One of the things Kaleopaa – who moved to California before his sophomore season, enjoyed the most was getting to sit down and talk with some current Razorback players.
"Yes, we had a roundtable and I got to talk to the quarterback Tyler Wilson and one of the cornerbacks," Kaleopaa said. "That was cool because they let us know what is was like from the student-athlete side.
"They made it clear that it is more than a team at Arkansas, it is a family," Kaleopaa added. "That's how football should be, together as one, taking care of each other."
Kaleopaa's chief recruiter is Arkansas offensive line coach Chris Klenakis.
"Coach K is recruiting me and is a great guy," Kaleopaa said. "He is always energetic and just someone who really cares about you more than just as a football player.
"I knew some about their program and how they have a lot of running backs in the NFL right now with (Felix) Jones and Darren McFadden and (Peyton) Hillis," Kaleopaa added. "But getting to visit helped me see the whole picture."
He also got to spend some time with new Arkansas linebackers coach Taver Johnson.
"He seems like a really good coach and someone I could learn a lot from," Kaleopaa said. "He really knows his stuff."
Kaleopaa said Arkansas wants him to shed some weight.
"They won't me to lose some weight and play around 240," Kaleopaa said. "That would help my speed and make me a better linebacker.
"I think my biggest strength is having a nose for the football and being able to stop the run," Kaleopaa continued. "I need to get better in my pass coverage and losing some weight should help that."
Kaleopaa got his offer from Arkansas three days after visiting the school.
"My coach called me about 7:40 a.m. our time and told me to call Coach K," Kaleopaa said. "He told me they wanted to offer me a scholarship and they wanted me to come be a part of their program.
"I was pumped up," Kaleopaa said.
He is also getting interest from UCLA, Washington State and Nebraska.
"I am not really ready to commit just yet, but Arkansas is my top choice right now," Kaleopaa said.
Arkansas also offered La Mirada quarterback QB Kevin Dillman, who will just be a sophomore this season.
"He moved in from Sweden before the year started," Kaleopaa said. "He is 6-4, very gifted and one of the fastest guys on the team."
Dillman got snaps last season as a ninth-grader and was 18-of-26 passing for 216 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 16 times for 103 yards and another score.
"We have another quarterback that starts, but "Sweden" – that's what we call him - played some last year for us as a ninth-grader and ran the wildcat a lot," Kaleopaa said. "He also played quarterback the whole time in the JV games. They are going to split things up again this year."
Kaleopaa is looking forward to getting back to Fayetteville in the near future.
"We might come back for the spring game," Kaleopaa said. "We're just going to have to see if we can work that out."
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