It is hard to quantify just how much having the new Fred W. Smith Football Operations Center has helped Arkansas' football program in recruiting already, but it is clear that it has been a legitimate factor.
Eight players committed last week – seven of which pledged after seeing the new state-of-the-art facility, which includes the largest lockers in the country and a ton of amenities.
Several of them did so have going into the new facility at the same time the current Razorbacks got to see it for the first time.
"I can really go into too many specifics, but last weekend was very exciting," Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said. "One of the decisions that we made was to kind of partner our camps with maybe the culmination of walking our current players into our new facility."
Five players committed to Arkansas in a span of 22 minutes on Saturday.
"...Last weekend I have never had a recruiting weekend like that - especially because there were a few officials and some unofficial visits," Bielema added. "We had some huge momentum and I think some of it was from what they saw from our own players. Because that is real, that is genuine, that is sincere."
Another one came on board Friday when Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna Community College offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor (6-6, 315) chose Arkansas over Ohio State and UCLA and many others.
"That thing is simply amazing," noted Eluemunor, who was with the current Razorbacks when they got their first look at it on Friday. "It is unreal with everything you could want or need."
It has truly taken Arkansas from the stone age of college football training, equipment and conditioning facilities to the top of the mountain.
"I'm not saying we're going to be the top in the country, but we are definitely in the upper division now both in the locker room, the training room, equipment room, players lounge," Bielema said.
"We have a players lounge with 20 chairs for like a private movie," Bielema added. "I feel like slapping our guys. They have it way to good.
"They have a training room that is basically about five or six times of the size we have currently," Bielema continued. "They are going to go from what they've been doing and having success to one of the best facilities in the country. Now we just have to put a product on the film that matches it."
Bielema has made it clear that he will put his first focus on Arkansas, but also pay a lot of attention to Florida (as he did while at Wisconsin) and Texas.
"The part that has been fun for us is getting a feel for the type of kids we want," Bielema said. "We're going to play a certain type of football that you need like football, you need to enjoy playing physical football, you need to play in a way that makes you play the game the right way – not committing penalties, don't put yourself in a hole. That led us to a certain type of kid in Florida.
"I would suspect that we will try to sign one player to five players – somewhere in between – every year (in Florida) that fit our team in the best way possible," Bielema added.
Bielema knows he has a heavy hitter to help him in Texas in Dallas Cowboys owner and former Razorback Jerry Jones.
"We have a certain alumni that built a stadium in the middle of Dallas that is very big," Bielema said. "He won a national championship when he was a player at Arkansas. Jerry Jones has made the commitment he wants to make everything about Arkansas great.
"We have moved into Texas, East Texas," Bielema added. "We've had six, sometimes seven, eight coaches in Texas at one time. If we can help make the transition from Texas to Arkansas a little smoother, we'll do that."
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