Recruiting To The Max

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson writes about how Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema and his staff will be off and running on the recruiting trail - and stay there for 14 straight days - as soon as this season ends.

When the clock hits zero in Baton Rouge the day after Thanksgiving as Arkansas closes a season at LSU, Razorback coaches will be off and running.

They will be running away from this season and onto the next – at least in terms or recruiting.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema – who will miss taking a team to a bowl for the first time in his eight years as a head coach - made that clear in a recent interview.

He noted that he and his Razorback staff – who will have at least three mid-term enrollees in Bolivar, Mo., quarterback Rafe Peavey (6-2, 212), Shreveport, La., Evangel Christian wide receiver Jared Cornelius (6-1, 190) and Marietta, Ga., Lassiter cornerback Chris Murphy (5-11, 180) - will be using that time wisely recruiting early in December.

Especially since a new NCAA rule has put a dead period in place Dec. 16-Jan. 15 and in effect taken out a week of recruiting.

"Now, we'll use it to our advantage," Bielema said. "You want to talk about turning a negative into a positive, we're not in a bowl game, so we'll have every guy out on the road from Saturday afternoon, and for 14 straight days, there won't be a team in the country that can commit more manpower than we'll do. We've got to figure out ways to use that to our advantage. The flip side of it, it dramatically changes the world of college football."

Bielema has made it clear that he would like to add a couple of more mid-term guys to the aforementioned trio. He talked about how the new rule could keep some prospects from actually taking official visits.

Cornelius would have a bye week before his state championship game and is slated to come in on an official visit the Dec. 6-8 weekend along with teammate and fellow Razorback commit Santos Ramirez - while Murphy and Peavey are slated to take their official treks on Dec. 13-15.

Those are the two big recruiting weekends that Arkansas has plans to have before Christmas with somewhere around 20 committed and uncommitted players taking official visits.

While mid-term grads can sign financial agreements now, the national signing date for the rest of the 2014 class is Feb. 5.

Murphy signed his financial agreement with Arkansas on Nov. 13 while Peavey will sign his Monday at 2 p.m. and Cornelius will sign his as soon as his season is over.

Bielema was able to talk about Murphy once he got his letter on Thursday.

"I'm excited to get Chris here in January," Coach Bielema said. "He comes from a great family with great structure and is as concerned with his academic performance as his athletic performance. Chris will be a great addition to the Razorback family."

Murphy helped make history his senior season at Lassiter, as the Trojans repeated as Region 5-AAAAAA champions for the first time in school history.

He finished his final campaign with 31 tackles, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked field goal.

"In recruiting, assistant coaches, by rule, have always had six opportunities to go visit a young man in his home," Bielema said. "That is if he's signing on National Signing Day By what they did with the recruiting calendar, they took away a week. Now it's down to five. If a young man is going to come to school here mid-term, classes start Jan. 13. It's dead the four weeks prior to that.

"If you're a kid in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and several other states, if you play in a state championship game, and you play on that Friday or Saturday and you plan on enrolling in school at a mid-term selection, you'll never get to take an official visit if you didn't take one during the fall, which a lot of kids don't, because they're so locked in to being a great football team," Bielema added.

Bielema noted that a lot of recruiting is about relationships and noted one instance in which he went the extra mile recruiting while an assistant at Iowa.

"The advantage I always believed I had as an assistant coach, if I got six visits, I'm going to go in that school six times," Bielema said. "I'm going to get to know that coach, that guidance counselor. I'm going to go see dad. I recruited a man by the name of Ben Sobieski out of Minnesota.

"He was nationally recruited by everybody in the country, and we were a 1-10 team," Bielema added. "I got the kid to commit to us and come to the University of Iowa. It was because I went and saw dad, who was a chemist and invented stuff for 3M.

"Ben Sobieski is like 6-foot-8 and his dad is a little 5-foot-4 chemist who worked for 3M," Bielema continued. "He thought it was the coolest thing in the world that you came and saw him at work. The reason you saw him at work is because you had time to do it. You get to know these people and what makes them tick. The NCAA, in my opinion, has eliminated that ability for whatever reason."

Bret Bielema

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