An Arkansas Man

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson chats with new Razorback football assistant coach Barry Lunney, Jr., who is in charge of the recruiting grid prospects inside the state of Arkansas and being a go-to guy for their head coaches.

With the pledge of Bentonville junior tight end Jack Kraus earlier this week, Arkansas has now landed three in-state prospects and has four commitments overall in its 2014 recruiting class.

Kraus (6-5, 240) joins El Dorado defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson (6-2, 320), North Little Rock tailback Juan Day (6-1, 210) and Bolivar (MO) quarterback Rafe Peavey (6-3, 215) as pledges in the class.

The Razorbacks – who have also offered Har-Ber defensive tackle Josh Frazier (6-3, 335) - will continue to evaluate prospects inside the state's borders with new tight end coach and former Arkansas quarterback Barry Lunney, Jr. leading the charge. Lunney realizes he is the lone guy with Arkansas ties on head coach Bret Bielema's staff and knows he is a go-to guy for the state's high school head coaches.

"The coaches that I did have a chance to interact with in the brief time – we were basically looking at three to four weeks – were just fantastic," Lunney said. "Since that time I have had a chance to talk to a lot of them - whether it was at the (Arkansas Coaches) Clinic in Hot Springs or just on the phone as we start getting our plans together for spring recruiting for the kids in state this year, 2015 and even 2016 because you have got to stay on top of it – and everybody I have talked to has been just fantastic.

"It has really made me feel welcomed and warm and most everybody I call I usually have some sort of connection with or background with or my dad has had a background with so there is a talking point there and a way to break the ice," Lunney added.

Lunney gets the feeling the state's high school coaches like Bielema, who has already cozied up to the group more than former coach Bobby Petrino did.

"I think the state's high school coaches are excited about Coach Bielema," Lunney said. "I think they saw him at the clinic and saw him as a guy they could connect with and was going to make an effort to connect with them. It is an exciting time for us because we have a clean slate with them.

"Right now things are going great and we want to make a strong effort to make sure that things stay that way," Lunney continued. Instead of bringing in a huge group for a junior day this spring, Arkansas has brought in several small groups or just a few prospects so they could give them more individual attention.

"I think that has kind of been coach's deal in the past at Wisconsin," Lunney said. "He doesn't like dealing with big groups – not that he isn't capable of it – but individual attention is important to him. You want to be attentive to somebody when they are on your campus."

"Going forward I think we have a good plan to incorporate guys here on campus and be able to interact with them and allow them to know us and for us to get to know them," Lunney added.

Lunney is happy with the early commitments and is looking forward to getting out on the road after spring practice is over to evaluate more talent.

"Obviously if you look at it we are off to a pretty good start in the state and I think there is some really nice talent still out there," Lunney said. "There is some tremendous talent in the state this year. I think it is on par with what it is most years and as go forward in spring recruiting and summer time looking and watching you will inevitably find another prospect or two that you become real interested in.

"We are anxious to get out on the road and get that process started and get to know these kids and see what is out there," Lunney added.

Barry Lunney, Jr.

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