Parade All-American linebacker Vin Ascolese never intended to spend this fall in New Jersey, but he now knows that he will get to spend January and beyond in Arkansas.
Ascolese (6-3, 230) was one of the Razorbacks' 2012 football signees, but he did not get clearance from the NCAA clearinghouse in time to report in August.
"It wasn't anything that I did because I had a 3.1 grade point average I got 1400 on my SAT," said Ascolese, whose high school got out in late June, "But the NCAA didn't recognize some of the classes that I had taken in high school and asked for more information. By the time they got that information it was already too late to come to Arkansas."
Ascolese did get word recently that he had indeed been given clearance and he intends to arrive in Fayetteville in January to start his college career.
"I am not coming down to any games this season because when I get on that plane and land in Arkansas, I know there's no way I'd be able to get back on it and leave it," Ascolese said. "I can't wait to get down there with my teammates. I have such a hunger to play."
Ascolese became an Arkansas fan favorite during the recruiting process when he expressed his passion for being a Razorback before he signed.
That included writing a sonnet called "The Razorback", where he waxed poetic about being a player who would never give up, who would give his heart to his team, fight to the death, scratch until his fingers bleed for that extra inch and be someone who would run through a wall for his coach and teammates.
"I'm so all in and I think the fans like that about me," Ascolese said. "I absolutely love our fans and want to come down to Arkansas and play my very best for them."
Ascolese had 134 tackles his senior season with an incredible 57 going for lost yardage. He also had 11 sacks eight forced fumbles and two interceptions while also rushing for 600 yards.
He chose Arkansas over Texas A&M, Illinois and a late offer from South Carolina and was named The Star–Ledger's North Jersey player of the year.
"I haven't been sitting around," Ascolese said. "I have been working out six days a week with a trainer and I am now up to 230 pounds and feel great at this weight. I'm coming to play right away."
Arkansas signed three linebackers in its 2012 recruiting class and the other two - A.J. Turner and Otha Peters - have played significant time this season.
"I've talked to a lot of the guys from my class like Otha, (cornerback) Will Hines and (tailback_ Jonathan Williams," Ascolese said. "They have told me to keep my head up and be ready to play when I get there just like they are doing."
Ascolese, who had over 300 tackles in his high school career, knows Arkansas is losing two senior linebackers and needs to add in some talent at all three linebacker spots.
The Razorbacks have commitments from Memphis (TN) East linebacker Marcus Robinson (6-4, 215) and Weed (CA) College of the Siskiyous linebacker Myke Tavarres (6-2, 220).
"I think the fact that I am getting to come in in January and will be able to go through spring practice will give me a great shot at being ready to play and ready to make an impact right away next season," Ascolese said. "That's my goal."
Ascolese has kept up with the Razorbacks through his assistant coach Paul Petrino and through the newspapers and on television.
"It was a really tough start and they didn't handle adversity very well, " Ascolese said. "But they have showed some character bouncing back and some toughness. I'm proud of them and I'm coming to help them as soon as I can."
By the time Ascolese arrives in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks will have a new head football coach.
"I can't wait to see what happens there but I know were going to get a great coach," Ascolese said. "Arkansas has a lot of great stuff going for it so I know will get the right guy in there. I'm not worried at all about that."
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