New Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema loves what he just added to the Razorback roster.
Bielema had a teleconference Saturday on which he talked about the five junior college mid-term signees he landed on Wednesday among a variety of other topics.
Those five were Georgia Military College safety Tiquention Coleman (5-11, 190), Butler County (KA) Community Collete offensive lineman John McClure (6-4, 310) Hartnell (CA) College cornerback Carroll Washington (6-1, 180) and linebackers Myke Tavarres (6-2, 223) of Weed (CA) College of the Siskiyous and Martrell Spaight (6-0, 220) of Coffeyville (KA) CC.
"I was able to land five great junior college prospects that fit some immediate needs that we might have just from watching film," Bielema said. "…They are five guys that embody a lot of what we want and are really going to be able to help us immediately."
Coleman was a Wisconsin commit before Bielema made the decision to move from there to Arkansas.
"We hadn't taken a lot of junior college players at Wisconsin, had taken a few to fill some immediate needs," Bielema said. "Last year we really felt strongly that we needed to find a safety to help us at Wisconsin so we scoured the country and I can't tell you how much junior college film I watched – of junior college safeties in particular.
"We found Tiquention Coleman," Bielema added. "TQ is a young man that comes to us from Georgia Military. He was committed to us at Wisconsin. When I left there I really told myself and I told my staff back there that I really wasn't going to reach out to any players unless they reached out to me."
Coleman certainly did that in a big way.
"TQ sent me a pretty detailed message," Bielema said. "I waited a couple of days to let him think about it and I called him back and he expressed a very strong interest in coming to visit. When I got here I saw there was a need for safeties.
"I am very excited about him and I couldn't be more excited about having a player that we recruited is the caliber of person and player combination," Bielema said. " It's just awesome."
McClure is likely to fill an immediate need on an offensive line that is losing junior Alvin Bailey, who has declared for the NFL draft.
"Jonathan McClure was a current commitment that was re-established once we got here," Bielema said. "…Again he is a really good story. I think it speaks volumes about him that he is two-time All-American, which is really unusual in a JC player. We are excited to get him and he will plug in at guard or center."
Spaight, a North Little native, committed to Kansas State just days before Bielema got in touch with him.
"That was a whirlwind recruiting process," Bielema said. "We didn't find out about him until the last week, contacted him on the phone and had a nice conversation with him. I went over to Little Rock on the last night of recruiting, flew in there, sit down and visited with his mom and dad, grandpa and grandma. Just a neat kid.
"Obviously, I have said all along that anybody from Arkansas that can help us win an SEC championship we need to keep in state and that is what he is doing. He was the player of the year in the Jayhawk Conference and just everything that we want," Bielema said.
Spaight will have to take an online course to be eligible at Arkansas and will likely not be able to go through spring practice.
"As it stands right now, it is probably a no," Bielema said. "He wouldn't be able to join us until June this summer. I think it gives us a great indication of how bad he wanted to play in his home state and wanted to play at Arkansas because he could have went to other schools and been eligible immediately without taking that class…But he wanted to be a Razorback and he wanted to play for his home state."
Tavarres committed to Arkansas in August and then held strong despite a late move from Boise State.
"Myke Tavarres is an outside linebacker that can run like the wind," Bielema said. "I went to see him the last couple of days of recruiting. Kind of a neat deal. I actually went to see him at his junior college and then flew to Portland to see his family.
"He chose us on the last day and I didn't know until that Wednesday morning where he was going," Bielema added. "We are excited to have him as a Hog."
Washington is a former teammate of current Razorback fullback Kiero Small.
"Carroll Washington is from Baltimore and went to junior college out in California," Bielema said. "He is obviously connected to one of our players here. Really when I was watching film of him I was amazed at his athletic ability. He has got hands the size of a huge bear, great ball skills and I am excited to get him in the program."
Bielema has been overwhelmed by the response he has gotten from in state players and coaches.
"The feeling and the response that we have gotten in state – whether it is junior college or high school players or high school coaches – has blown me away in the last two-and-a-half weeks," Bielema said. "It's just how great everybody in the state has been and what they want to do here."
Bielema walked into a program that had 17 pledges for the 2013 class.
It now has five signees and 10 commitments.
"When I walked in there was a certain commitment list on the board – some strong and some weak and some kind of in between," Bielema said. "Of course, we do know now that we have five junior college players in place. Four of the five will be joining us in January. So that takes it down to 20 scholarships (to offer totally) and we will sign a full complement of 25.
"There may be a few more junior college prospects, a couple of people that have reached out to us for transfer opportunities as we run through it," Bielema added. "I will kind of work through our roster in the next 10 days."
He is depending on offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman, defensive coordinator Chris Ash and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge to help in that regard.
"Coach Chaney and Coach Pittman have really been scouring our board, watching practice film from a year ago, watching playing film from a year ago to get a good feel of what we needed moving forward on offense and defense and that is what we will do," Bielema said.
"I will spend a large majority of the time tomorrow with Coach Ash and Coach Patridge and will kind of merge those things together before we go out in January and we are going to get the best players that can come here to Arkansas and make us what we are."
Arkansas can only sign 25 players and not count any back.
"That's something they really haven't tracked as well as maybe some other places here in the past," Bielema said. "We wanted to make sure that it was looked at intensely as we can, but there doesn't seem to be any opportunities to do that moving forward. So the 25 that we have will obviously be the maximum we can get involved with."
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