Perfect Match

It appears that Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema is poised to land Arizona Western College wide receiver Cody Hollister (6-4, 205), a mid-term grad who had 70 catches for almost 1,000 yards this season, will have three years to play three at his next stop and will visit the Razorbacks this week.

During a recent appearance on the Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly radio show, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema made reference to recruiting an athletic freak that doesn't have many offers.

"We are going to sign some really highly rated kids," Bielema said. "But I saw a kid yesterday (Wednesday) that I know is going to come in here and make a huge difference when it gets announced that he is coming and gets signed.

"They'll say he only had this offer and that offer, but he is a freak show," Bielema added.

While he can't name recruits, it's believed that Bielema was referring to Arizona Western College redshirt freshman wide receiver Cody Hollister, who will be visiting Arkansas this week – likely Thursday to Saturday - along with AWC tight end Blake Whitely (6-5, 240).

Hollister (6-4, 205), who redshirted at Nevada in 2012 along with his twin brother Evan, had a breakout season in 2013 for the Matadors with 70 catches for over 900 yards and five touchdowns.

His physical size and production this season, the fact that he is a mid-term graduate and knowledge that he will have three years to play three at his next stop has grabbed the attention of Arkansas' coaches.

"Coach Bielema told me that he did not have anybody like me on his roster and that he could see me having a big impact right away next season," Hollister said. "I can hardly wait to get down there for the visit. Arkansas has had a great program over the years and my dad and I have followed Coach Bielema's career at Wisconsin and also been impressed with his teams.

"He also recruited our quarterback last year (while still at Wisconsin) so I had a chance to see what kind of coach he was and have been really impressed with everything about him," Hollister added.

Until Arkansas offered last Wednesday, Hollister's only other offers were from Weber State, Illinois State, Troy – where he visited Thanksgiving weekend - and Wyoming, the latter two schools that have also offered his brother that played quarterback at Nevada and is now a tight end.

That was in part due to the fact that not many schools realized that Hollister was poised to be a December graduate and could go through spring practice.

"I have started having a lot of schools call about me now that they have found out what the deal is with me," Hollister said. "I'm going to be able to do this (graduate) because I have taken 24 hours this semester with some of the hours being online classes.

"I made the decision that when I got here that I wanted to do what I could to get out in December and it's been a lot of hard work for me both on and off the field to get to this point," Hollister added. "But I was driven to get this done and I will have it all over with this week."

Arkansas has been in touch for a little while now and Bielema showed up Wednesday to see both Hollister and Whitely.

"I was really impressed with him and his vision for the future," Hollister said. "A lot of times head coaches don't show up at junior colleges and just send their assistants, but he said he came to see us because he thought we could be a big part of helping him turn things around quicker.

"He said he had an offer and he wanted me and let's get this done with a visit this weekend," Hollister said.

Hollister has flourished this season as the Matadors' number one receiving target.

"I feel like I am able to take advantage of any kind of matchup," Hollister said. "If you have somebody small covering me I am just going to be able to use my height and my athletic ability to just overpowered the cornerback – most of whom aren't over 6-foot these days.

"If you try to put somebody bigger on me than I can use my speed to just get by them," Hollister added. "I feel like I run great routes and make plays over the middle, on the sidelines and getting deep.

"I really feel like I just know how to play the game, know how to play the game as a wide receiver," Hollister continued. I think I am just a football player that makes plays and does whatever it takes to get the football and help my team win."

It was a strange season for Arizona Western, which started the year 7-1 before being forced to forfeit five of its games because of a paperwork snafu that compromised eligibility and also weathering the dismissal of some players for undisclosed reasons.

That reverted the Matadors' record to 2-6 and they consequently lost their last four games including Saturday's season finale – a 32-16 loss to New Mexico Military in the El Toro Bowl.

That was the same team that Arizona Western dominated 47-27 earlier in the season with Hollister catching 6 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

"It was a crazy season for our team and we felt like we had a lot of adversity that we had to fight through and will be better people because of it," Hollister said. "As an individual, I just had to keep working on keeping my head up, pushing forward and trying to do the best I could for my team each game.

Hollister, who has three sisters in addition to the twin brother, comes from an athletic family as his dad played baseball for Portland State and his grandfather played football for BYU.

He had 2,300 yards receiving and 30 touchdowns as a junior and senior for Mountain View High School in Bend, Oregon with his team winning a state championship his final season.

While teams continue to call, he thinks that Arkansas is the place for him – especially since he will be a mid-term graduate and come to a school in January and go through spring practice.

"God works in mysterious ways," Hollister said. "I've been handed this great opportunity and just feel like Arkansas and I have been put together for a reason. I don't plan to take any other visits. I think Arkansas is the place I am meant to be so I'll just get out there and take my visit and move forward."

Cody Hollister

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