It's not often that a prospect commits to a school without actually visiting the campus first, but Georgia prep linebacker Khalia Hackett (6-3, 205) did so with Arkansas back in July.
Hackett, who plays for Douglasville South Paulding, will be making his first trip to Fayetteville next weekend for his official visit as the Razorbacks host Southern Mississippi.
"I'm really excited about it," noted Hackett, whose 2-0 team has an open date this weekend. "My parents are coming with me and it's going to be great to have the whole weekend to check out what Arkansas is all about, be around the coaches and players and enjoy what a game day is like there."
It was Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson – who recruits Georgia for the Razorbacks – that got Hackett on board.
"I committed to Arkansas because those guys are great coaches and I know really care about me combined with the opportunity to play in the best conference in the nation," Hackett said. "I want to play against the best and that is what the SEC is."
Hackett, who has 11 offers, chose Arkansas over the rest of a final four that included Wisconsin, Georgia Tech and Syracuse.
He has kept up with his future team's early success after Arknsas, which had 21 wins in 2010 and 2011, came off a 4-8 campaign in 2012 a season ago that saw three head coaches in nine months.
"I have been talking to the coaches about how they are playing and I'm happy that they have won both of their games," Hackett said. "The new head coach – Coach (Brett) Bielema – is a great head coach and I know the program is getting ready to take back off again."
Hackett has played safety his past two seasons for South Paulding, but has moved this season to outside linebacker, where Arkansas' coaches project him to play in college.
He flourished in his first game at the position with 16 tackles in a 42-35 win over Rome on August 30.
"I'm loving it," Hackett said. "I love being closer to the line of scrimmage and being able to hit. But our coaches also love my coverage ability and that's why at times they line me up to cover the other team's number two receiver. I feel like I can shut down wide receivers and running back and I know that is something that Arkansas' coaches like about me."
He had six tackles in just a half last Friday as South Paulding downed Villa Rica to move to 2-0.
"The last three seasons we have gone 6-4, 6-4 and 6-4 so we are determined to get past that record and get into the playoffs this season," Hackett said. "With the open date, we'll have two weeks to prepare for our next opponent while they will have just one week to get prepared for us."
He hopes during that time the South Paulding defense will take a step forward.
"I think we have been okay, but we have to get better every day to be the defense that we want to be," Hackett said. "Individually, it's the same story for me. Just keep getting better every day."
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