Spaight's Late Surprise

Former North Little Rock star and current first-team junior college All-American linebacker Martrell Spaight (6-0, 220) - a mid-term graduate who just committed to Kansas State last week - now has his dream Razorback offer from new Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and a decision to make.

Former North Little Rock and Coffeyville (KA) Community College linebacker Martrell Spaight always dreamed of getting a football scholarship offer to the University of Arkansas.

Except in his dream the offer didn't come a few days after committing to Kansas State and a few days before the mid-term junior college signing period opens next Wednesday.

"It's been a big week and one that has my head spinning for sure," Spaight said. "I'm just trying to wrap my head around it all."

Spaight (6-0, 220) – who was also named a first-team All-American this week to go along with his Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year honor – got a call from Arkansas assistant Bobby Allen on Saturday morning and then met with new Razorback head coach Bret Bielema on Saturday night.

"He (Allen) had stayed in constant contact with me during the recruiting process and had always told me that he hoped to offer me, but that there was likely going to be a new staff and we would just see how it worked out," Spaight said. "He called me yesterday and said the new coach loved my tape and wanted to come see me."

Spaight had 130 tackles last season with 13.5 tackles for lost yardage, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

That followed up a freshman season in which he had 101 tackles, nine tackles for lost yardage, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick.

"Coach (Bielema) said that he looked over my tape and thought I could really be a good fit in his defense," Spaight said. "He told me that he had a linebacker that was just 5-11 – I don't remember his name – and that he was one of his best linebackers at Wisconsin. He said he went after players that were productive like me and he thought I good be a good weakside linebacker for Arkansas."

This comes less than one week after Spaight took an official visit to Kansas State and committed to Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder last Monday.

He had already taken official visits to Rutgers – where he had an offer – and Ohio State, which had not yet offered.

South Carolina, West Virginia and South Florida had also been angling for visits before he ended the process.

"I really enjoyed being around the players at Kansas State as well as the coaching staff," Spaight said. "It's kind of a good Christian atmosphere and a place I think I could be very comfortable.

"I think their defensive system also fits me pretty well because it is the same type that we played at Coffeyville," Spaight said.

The pull of Arkansas is certainly understandable.

"I grew up a Razorback fan and also dreamed of playing at Arkansas," Spaight said. "I came up for their senior camp when I was in high school and hoped to get an offer then, but it didn't work out.

"But I am really happy I have the chance now," Spaight added. "I have two great offers, two great situations."

Spaight says the style of two different conferences – the SEC and Big 12 – will factor into his decision.

"My dad (Mark Spaight) and I are sitting down and making a list of pros and cons about each school and just trying to make a decision on which school would be best for me," Spaight said. "I believe my best strength is as a run stopper and there are a lot of people telling me that the SEC is the league for me because of that. We'll just keep going over it and make a decision."

Because it is a recruiting dead period, Spaight is not able to make an official visit to Arkansas until January – one that would could happen on Jan. 11-13.

"I don't know right now what I am going to do about signing," Spaight said. "The date is Wednesday, but you don't have to sign on the first day. Coach (Bielema) has told me that he doesn't mind if I sign then or want to wait until I can take an official visit. I think that is pretty cool of them.

"This has all happen so fast that I just don't know right now," Spaight added. "That's why my dad and I are just trying to go over all the pros and cons right now of every aspect of the decision."

North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding had high praise for Spaight as both a player and a person.

"I tell you what, I have been in this business a long, long time and I can tell you that Martrell is one the top five people just as a person that I have been around and that includes coaches and players," Bolding said. "He is a great leader, has a great work ethic and his parents are around and have done a great job raising him. I've been in coaching now for 43 years and there are just not many people that have the character that this young man does."

Bolding offered a story on Spaight to attest to that.

"His dad got a call around midnight one night from the coach at Coffeyville and he said we have not been able to find your son," Bolding said. "As any dad would, he got in the car and started heading that way and was about 30 minutes into his drive when he got another call from the coach.

"The coach said, ‘well, we found him. He was in the sandpit out behind the weight room just trying to get better,'" Bolding added. "That just kind of sums it up right there."

Bolding and Spaight have had a chance to talk about this weekend's sudden turn of events.

"I told him he needs to think about this when it comes to Arkansas – that other staff may not have thought you were good enough, or snubbed you or whatever you want to call it," Bolding said, "but the new coach has been here just a week and he already knows he wants you to play for him. That says a lot."





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