The Recruiting Road

Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema and his staff will be back out on the road this weekend hoping to continue their quest to land a talent infusion for the Razorback football program.

Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema knows his program's fans are not happy about the team's struggles the last few weeks and has stressed that he's not about to accept the status quo.

In fact, as soon as practice finished up Thursday for the Razorbacks (3-5, 0-4), Bielema and his staff were back on the recruiting trail as they were earlier this week looking to continue adding pieces to the process of rebuilding.

Bielema and his assistants had already been out on Monday this week sandwiching practices Tuesday, Wednesdsay and Thursday between the trips on the recruiting trail.

"This week has been fun for me as far as locking into a little bit of recruiting and getting heavily involved in that," Bielema said. "I've been blessed with some great donors that have given us air travel to make that happen.

"On the flip side of that, everywhere we have been it just has been extremely positive with the coaches," Bielema added. "...The reception we got from coaches from coast-to-coast has been exceptional."

This week's recruiting surge came at a good time for Bielema, whose team is riding a five-game losing streak after winning his first three games as the Razorback head coach.

"It was good for me to get into different thing other than just Xs and Os," Bielema admitted. "It was beneficial for me to get out on the road and get refreshed and hear some positive things."

Arkansas will try to add to this week's recruiting effort by bringing in three uncommitted official visitors could make immediate impacts on the program next week.

The trio scheduled to attend next weekend are Jenks, Okla., safety Steven Parker, Olathe Park, Kan., North linebacker Jimmie Swain and St. Louis, Mo, Christian Brothers College High offensive lineman Brian Wallace.

Arkansas will be hosting No. 11 Auburn at either 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. next Saturday with that time to be announced after this weekend's games.

"I am excited about game week next week," Bielema said. "Auburn next week, obviously a big game, lot that goes into it. Team that is ranked, team that has done some good things.

"It's obviously an opportunity to be here at home on what should be close to – it sounds like – a sellout crowd, an evening game that everybody should be jacked up for. It should be a tremendous environment and a big weekend for us in recruiting as well."

Bielema talked about his current 2014 class that has 17 pledges in it on its way to signing 25.

He noted that he may need to add some older players after assessing his team the last few weeks.

"I really have taken the last two or three weeks to get a good accord of what I see, what we have and what we need to do," Bielema continued. "I originally planned just to sign two or three junior college players. That may grow by one or two.

"I think unless we find the right high school kid, we probably need a junior college linebacker, maybe a junior college DB that we weren't planning on signing and the possibility of either a transfer or a junior college player or two on offense as well," Bielema added.

Arkansas is cleary pushing immediate playing time as a recruiting tool as evidenced by a poster that Bielema pulled out at Thursday's press conference.

"Everybody loves propoganda and this a recruiting letter that we sent out the other day...this is something that our recruiting department out together - "Greatness Is Happening – Are you going to be the next freshman to have a role in the season?'

"It basically lists 18 guys that are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen that are having an immediate impact on our program," Bielema added. "We've got probably – I was notified the other day – five, maybe, six or seven guys depending on how the next four games go that could be freshmen All-Americans or for sure freshman All-SEC players.

"Whether that is something you want or not it is something that encourages you and gets you excited about what we are doing," Bielema contined.

Bielema knows he is not likely to sign 25 players that would be ready to play siginficant roles next season, but does target toward that.

"There are certain kids that commit to you that you may see as an immediate answer whereas you see certain kids that might be a two-year answer or somebody you expect to come in and develop in the program the way we like to get it done," Bielema said.

Arkansas has 17 commitments in its 2014 class toward a goal of signing 25.

"For all practical purposes, we have worked our way through about three-quarters of our commitments and we have a certain number that we are set in," Bielema said. "That number may grow."

He alluded to the fact that not everyone eligible to come back next season for Arkansas will likely do so.

"My guess is that we are going to have some conversations in December with some guys that may or may not be happy with where they are at and where they need to go," Bielema added. "Couple of guys have made some life choices that will make it easy for me to move in a certain direction.

"We won't take guys away prematurely or anything like that," Bielema added. "The only way you can lose your scholarship is because of from stupid behavior – academically or socially."

Bielema noted how lucky he is to have donor planes – in addition tot the school ones - to fly he and his staff around recruiting.

"I use Warren Stephens' plane, a guy that has been great for me since I got here about travel, I texted him the other day and said 'last year your plane helped me land four true freshman All-Americans. If we can double that next year's class we will be doing good business. So hopefully that can continue to grow."

Bielema has been on the phone this week as well.

"Normally during a call week, I make 10 to 15 calls, but I wanted to take in every kid that is committed to us," Bielema said. "I wanted to make the recruiting call to the kids this week for one reason – I wanted to talk to them and give them my message about where we are.

"I have worked myself through about three quarters of them and it has been absolutely awesome," Bielema said.

Bielema said that he is getting support from the fans.

"I know – at other places – when things are in a difficult road you get sharks in the water and they smell blood and we are going to have our opponents coming after our kids - our kids that are committed to us," Bielema said. "That is when you really rely on hopefully you have recruited the right type of kid, the kid that wants to be a Razorback for all the right reasons."

Just who is that guy?

"He hopefully is the kid that he gets here next Saturday and hopefully sees a crowd that supports the kid no matter what," Bielema continued. "That is what you really sell."

Bielema touched on what he needs to land with this recruiting class to help out the young talent he does have in Fayetteville already.

"It is kind of a little bit of bit-and-piece," Bielema said. "I think there are certain positions – a true Mike (middle) linebacker.

"...Overall I am looking for three things," Bielema continued. "I want kids that love football. Lot of people play football, but the kids that love football can usually do extraordinary things.

"I want them to have – if at all possible – something that shows me that they love to win – a championship, a winning record, a captain. Just something that shows me that they don't just love playing the game, but they want to win.

"The third thing is they have to believe in the core values of what we preach here – which is academic, athletic and social success," Bielema continued. "All three are equal. If they have an imbalance in that then they are not going to be able to get to where they want to be."





Bret Bielema


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