Newton High School running back Kevin Shorter has a lot to like about the schools that have made his final three.
Shorter, 6-foot, 190 pounds, has a cousin playing at Arkansas, but the Newton, Texas native also has the chance to stay within his home state if he goes to either of the other two schools, Texas A&M or Texas. He visited Texas Friday.
W.T. Johnson, his high school coach, said he thought Shorter's family was leaning toward him playing for the Razorbacks, though. D.J. Dean, who played at Newton last season, will play cornerback for the Razorbacks this fall and is Shorter's cousin.
"I think his family really wants him to go to Arkansas, from what I gather," Johnson said. "That way they can all be there together. They have ties in Arkansas, they have family in Arkansas and we have had kids in the past play there."
Another tie that both Dean and Shorter have to the Natural State is former Arkansas cornerback Greg Gatson. Gatson is a Memphis native who played for the Razorbacks and is also related to them. Gatson is now playing for the San Diego Chargers.
"Greg Gatson played in the secondary and they were cousins with him. And his dad, Greg Gatson Sr., played for the Razorbacks in the '80s and he was from Newton, Texas."
Johnson helped Arkansas land Dean after the cornerback decided he no longer wanted to go to Utah. He had been committed to play for the Utes, but once he decided he wanted to go elsewhere, Johnson helped guide Arkansas, Baylor and Oklahoma State his way and Dean ultimately chose to sign with the Razorbacks.
Similarly, Johnson has been assisting Shorter with the recruiting process and, with a laugh, said "I'll be glad when he makes up his mind."
"I'll never tell him where to go, that's something where I'm not the one going, so they have to make that decision for themselves and go there and be happy," he said. "All I do is tell them what I think about the head coach or the program and occasionally, I will compare, but I'll never tell him he needs to go to a specific place. I won't do that. I think that's for him and his family to decide. When he comes to me and asks questions, I'll tell him what I think."
Johnson said the hiring of Bret Bielema is something that makes the Razorbacks football program an extremely appealing one.
"I really think Coach Bielema is a good guy at Arkansas," he said. "I've met with him a couple of times, talked to him on the phone and I really think he is a really good guy. I think Arkansas hit a home run by getting him and I don't think they could have done better at all."
Regardless of whether Shorter picks Arkansas or either of the two Texas schools, Johnson said the four-star running back will bring a lot to the table both on the field and off of it.
"The thing that Kevin brings to everybody, he can catch the ball like a receiver, so you don't ever have to take him out of the game to put in someone to throw to," Johnson said. "A lot of backs can't catch the ball as well as others, but that's what he is really good at. He can catch and plus, he has a lot of speed and is a breakaway threat.
"He's going to be a big kid. He's about 6-foot or 6-foot-1 and everybody projects him to be 210 or 215 in another year.
"He's really matured the last two years. There was a time where he could be really rough around the edges, or at least he could be. But he's really grown up and he has matured. He has handled his recruiting process really well. He's been real even-keeled. He doesn't get too high on himself and a lot of kids can't handle it, but he's done a really good job with it."
Shorter's list now at three
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