Seeking Contact

Dudley E. Dawson chats with Hutchinson (KA) Community College linebacker Antonio Longino (6-2, 225), one of three Blue Dragons to visit Arkansas last week. This story is free and sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers.

Linebacker Antonio Longino was one of three Hutchinson (KA) Community College defensive standouts who visited Arkansas last weekend.

But because he was the only one who redshirted last season, Longino (6-2, 215, 4.5) is easily the one most anxious to hit the field this fall.

"I was not excited at all after being told I was going to redshirt, but after I talked to the coaches and found out the reasons behind it, I wasn't so frustrated," Longino said. "Now I know that I will get to play three years of major college ball because of it and they only do that for guys they think have a big-time future."

Longino, who shined for Cleveland's Shaw High as a prep and had 85 tackles his senior season, could very well play those three years for the Razorbacks after getting an offer recently.

He visited last Friday with fellow linebacker Kenny Flowers (6-1, 220, 4.5) – who has offers from Texas A&M, Indiana and West Virginia - and defensive tackle Toby Johnson (6-4, 300, 4.89), a December graduate who has Arkansas among his 20 or so offers.

All three are planning on coming back for an official visit during the season.

"We were all very impressed with what we saw at Arkansas," Longino said. "Arkansas is a great program that has great facilities and they are building even more."

One thing that particularly caught Longino's attention was the academic side of Arkansas' program.

"That was perhaps the most impressive thing about Arkansas to me – the academics," Longino said. "They have so much support for players. If you don't make your grades and get our education, then you just aren't trying. I know if I go to Arkansas – whether I make it to the NFL or not – I will be a success in life because of that."

He had a chance to visit with Arkansas head coach John L. Smith and Razorback linebackers coach Taver Johnson, the former Ohio State assistant.

"Coach Smith is great," Longino said. "He is both funny and real. It's a nice mix of keeping it light and keeping it real when it is time to be serious. I love that guy.

"Coach Johnson is from the area where I am from," Longino added. "I really enjoyed meeting him and getting to know him. He is great friends with my high school coach and I am really close to my high school coach. I trust him when he says he is a great guy who would take great care of me at Arkansas."

Longino – a former Kansas commitment - has offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Minnesota, Toledo and Cincinnati.

The Aggies have offered five Blue Dragos - Longino, Flowers, Johnson, and defensive tackles Ben Bradley (6-2, 270) and Robert Zimmerman (6-3, 290).

"I would have to say after my visit to Arkansas that they are at the very top along with Texas A&M," Longino said. "I was impressed with Texas A&M, but really, really impressed with Arkansas."

Longino does not try to hide what he believes is his strength on the field.

"I love to hit, love contact," Longino said. "I live to blow up guys with the football. It's why I love defense and love playing football."

Longino does admit that can cause him problems.

"I love blowing up the plays and contact so much that I do play too fast at times," Longino said. "I have got to learn to slow down, read the play and then attack.

"Part of that was that I played middle linebacker in high school and could just run from side to side making plays," Longino added. "But now that I am a strongside linebacker, I have to read the play better and not just race where I think the ball is going to be."

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