In all honestly, Gonzales (LA) East Ascension tailback Sione Palelei wasn't expecting too much when he made his trip to Arkansas last month for the Red-White game.
But Palelei (5-10, 200, 4.35), who is of Polynesian descent, came away floored with what he found and that's why the Razorbacks are a clear leader to land his commitment.
"I loved it," noted Palelei, whose nickname is Boo. "I really did. I didn't think it would be that much, but I found myself enjoying being around the players and coaches and fans and really enjoyed being shown around.
"Arkansas has great facilities, when you add in the new football center that is about to open," Palelei said. "It blew my mind and I am really convinced it is a great place and the place for me."
Palelei, who moved from Utah to Louisiana in the seventh grade, has offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, BYU, Utah, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Miss while LSU has shown interest as well.
But Palelei – who accounted for 1,114 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior - doesn't try to hide who the leader is out of that group.
"Yes, Arkansas is definitely my leader," Palelei said. "I am coming back up to Fayetteville in July and want to get my commitment probably out of the way this summer so I can concentrate on having a great senior season."
New Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has certainly impressed Palelei.
"He is big-time," Palelei said of Bielema. "He is great coach and is going to bring great things to this program. I believe his strategy of being involved in all phases of the game is going to be a big and help the team. I believe he is going to do big things with this team."
Palelei is a big fan of Razorback running backs coach Joel Thomas, who came from to Arkansas this year from Washington.
"He is a good guy," Palelei said. "He is one of those coaches that gets with you and tells you how he the team can benefit from you instead of how they are just going to use you. I get along with him and feel very comfortable around him."
He also got a chance to meet with Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith, who was a coach at Kansas State when current NFL player Darren Sproles was a Wildcat.
"I think we are similar players and can be used a lot in the same way out of the backfield and so does he," Palelei said. "I think the Arkansas coaches like the way that I can make one cut and be gone instead of just dancing around in the hole. My acceleration is pretty good, too."
Palelei has plans to step his leadership this season.
"I am going to try and be a leader for the younger ones under me and help them learn how to get through adversity," Palelei said. "I am going to try and build my speed and build my strength."
Arkansas Perfect For Palelei
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