Road Warriors

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson writes about where Arkansas has been recruiting during this spring evaluation period and how head coach Bret Bielema and recruiting coordinator Chris Hauser have the nine Razorback assistants attacking their areas.

Arkansas' football coaches have been hitting the recruiting trail hard during the last month and it appears to be really paying off per Razorback recruiting coordinator Chris Hauser.

Although the NCAA doesn't allow head coaches out to evaluate during the spring, Arkansas' nine assistants have been in no less than 30 states to analyze high school and junior college players in the areas of talent, grades and character.

They began that launch even before spring practice ended by swarming the state of Arkansas on April 19 - the first day of the spring period, which ends on May 31.

"The reception has been outstanding," Hauser said, "especially from the high school coaches starting with our home base here in Arkansas, which is our focus from start to finish.

"We also are hitting East Texas hard as well and we just need to recruit that like it is our own state," Hauser added. "That's why we have had six coaches on our staff down there already and all are doing a good job. It has been really positive."

Some of the states that the Razorbacks have hit the hardest besides Arkansas and Texas are Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

They've also made it a point to get assistants into old stomping grounds.

"It is still a transition for some of the coaches on our staff with relationships to previous areas we were in and kids that they were recruiting as sophomores in high school," Hauser said. "Those relationships are established so you want to keep those that you think can help you win an SEC championship no matter where they are at around the country.

"That's why Charlie Partridge is still in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for a couple of days, Taver Johnson is in Ohio for a couple of days," Hauser added. "Obviously both of those guys have connections to those states and kids that were committed to them in those states at different schools at different times.

"South Florida is huge for us with our two guys there – Charlie Partridge and Randy Shannon, where the reception there is huge for them," Hauser continued. "Obviously they have a reputation of being from there and pulling great talent out of there – be it at TCU, Wisconsin, wherever."

"We've also got Sam Pittman from Oklahoma, who is going to recruit Oklahoma; Jim Chaney, who grew up in Missouri and is going to recruit Missouri; Barry Lunney, who grew up in Arkansas and is going to recruit Arkansas and Michael Smith, who is from Louisiana and is recruiting Louisiana," Hauser related.

Hauser said Bielema is big on having his recruiters go out and learn all they can on kids – not just about how fast they can run or how strong they are.

"I think you put guys in places that have roots and have ties to high school coaches and thus understand what those kids are about," Hauser said. "Then it is up to them to really make sure that kid is of the profile of character and determination that we are trying to recruit at Arkansas."

The reported number of Arkansas 2014 class offers is around 150 scholarship offers, but it less than that per Hauser.

"I would say that is on the high end," Hauser said. "We have offered between 100 and 150. I would say that it is has been more like 125."

Hauser notes that Bielema is very selective in handing out scholarships – leaning more toward quality than quantity. "The thing that I have admired and learned so much from him when it comes to scholarships in the offering scholarships process is how valuable he views them when he hands them out to a kid," Hauser said. "He brings in the kid, the parents, the coach and the high school principal into the process.

"We send letters to all those people and make sure that all those people know it is the real deal," Hauser said. "There are a lot of schools that just toss out verbal offers and then it turns out that are really not real (committable offers). Schools do that just to get in the game."

Hauser said that Bielema and his staff stress to the recruits they are not just another player to the Razorbacks.

"Coach Bielema puts a lot of value on that scholarships and I think it means a lot to the kids," Hauser added. "I think a running back that gets recruited and offered by us, they understand are just maybe a handful in the whole entire country offered now by the University of Arkansas.

"I challenge those kids to look on Scout and look at some of the other schools that we are competing against and see how many offers they have thrown out at different positions," Hauser continued. "I think that shows the kids how much we value them."

Bielema's recruiting classes have not been ranked high on national signing day, but certainly have been rocketed to the top when re-evaluated five years later.

"You can only recruit 25," Hauser said. "There are a lot of kids out there they are very talented, but you have got to pick the 25 that are talented and fit the kind of football program we want to have. Coach Bielema has always been very successful in doing that."

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