Arkansas lost 31-27 in heartbreaking fashion at LSU on Friday, but the Razorbacks showed remarkable improvement.
Despite the nine-game losing streak, 2015 defensive end prospect Daytrieon Dean said he was impressed with how Arkansas prepared for the Tigers after visiting Arkansas during the week of Thanksgiving.
"I like was the way they ran practice," Dean said. "It was very organized and very disciplined.
"The way they practiced in the week leading up to LSU was amazing. And they could have won that game and the way they practiced that week was the reason they played so well. It was things like that that I saw and made me really like the opportunity to play for Arkansas."
Dean attends Fort Smith Northside. He said Arkansas' offseason preparation will allow the Razorbacks to compete at a much higher level next year.
"I think Arkansas has a good chance to compete for the top of the SEC," Dean said. "This year, they went through some tough times, but they finished strong and they never gave up.
"Coach (Ben Herbert), the strength and conditioning coach, I feel like once he trains these guys another year, they aren't even going to look the same a year from now.
"Arkansas is going to be ready to play and every time they play, they'll put up a fight. I feel sorry for teams that don't come prepared to play Arkansas, because they're going to be tough to beat."
Arkansas will open its 2014 campaign on the road against the Auburn Tigers, who clinched the SEC West title with a 109-yard field goal return to end regulation and beat Alabama 34-28 on Saturday.
"I think that will be a good game," Dean said of next the Razorbacks' next season opener. "I think Arkansas has a chance to come out and play harder than Auburn and playing that way can make Arkansas better than Auburn and Alabama.
"It will be a good game and Arkansas will be ready to compete at the top level with them."
When the Razorbacks play that game, Dean will be in the early stages of his senior year of high school. Still, he has two offers from Southeastern Conference schools (Arkansas and Ole Miss) and interest from others.
After his visit to Arkansas, he said he knows the Razorbacks' preparation goes beyond the gridiron, as well.
"At Arkansas, they are looking to prepare you on and off the field and that's what I really love," he said. "They care about your grades and your future away from football. That will play a huge role in my decision.
"And I love the coaching staff and they way treat me. Coach (Bret) Bielema talks to me like I'm one of his friends and I love that."
Dean recorded 60 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and blocked a kick this year. He said he plans to major in engineering.
If he committed, he would join three other 2015 commits from the Natural State. Arkansas also has four 2014 in-state pledges.
"I think the 2015 class is going to come in and work hard and help turn the program around," he said. "The 2015 class looks like it will be one of the best ones they have had in a while, so the Razorbacks will have a chance to be something special.
"Some of the best players from Arkansas will be playing for Arkansas. I think the feeling that you get when you are playing for your home state, when you are representing your city or hometown by playing for the Hogs, everybody is going to know you when you head back to your hometown and so many friendships and relationships are going to come out of that because you played for the Razorbacks.
"It's an honor and it's a feeling that you won't get anywhere else," he added. "You only have one home state so it's special to play for it."
Dean likes how Hogs prepare
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