Arkansas Seeks Texas Recruiting Revival
Arkansas' coaches know how important recruiting Texas is to their future and that's why they will be going early and staying late in the Lone Star state around Saturday's game with Texas A&M in Arlington.
Razorback coaches will get out to see several recruits play Friday night and many will also stay after the resumption of the Southwest Classic to be in Texas high schools early next week.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said he knew from day one that hitting Texas hard would be a priority, but he had to shore up some things first.
“I think when I first got here, I'm like, "OK, we're close to Texas. Let's go recruit Texas.' Well, it's not as easy as that,” Bielema said. “ You've got to have ties, you've got to have connections, you've got to have research.
“The one thing I love about, really in the South … I think the involved at the high school level of the high school coaches with their student-athletes is ratcheted up probably a couple degrees just because … they're going to hold you accountable, now. Not just when you say doing the recruiting process, but how you're taking care of their kid once they're here.”
Bielema has secondary coach Clay Jennings – a former TCU assistant – recruiting Texas along with running backs coach Joel Thomas, wide receiver Coach Michael Smith, defensive line coach Rory Segrest and even offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to an extent.
“I know a lot of coaches in the Dallas area,” Bielema said. “I really hadn't been into Houston and East Texas and all that jazz. I think the hiring of Clay Jennings gives me a lot of street credit, where we need to do. Michael's got a great reputation, and Joel's got a great reputation. Coach Chaney in his own regards has been there a little bit.
“And what we've done now is be able to see some of these Texas players come over (to Arkansas) and have success, so we need to get stronger,” Bielema added. “ Like I've said before, I've got four coaches full-time committing their efforts down there. During the bye week, I'm going to be in there quite a bit. So it's something we'll continue to stress. I think my awareness and maybe my efficiency as a staff and as a program is a lot more efficient now than it was.”
Arkansas has 11 former Texas prep stars on its current roster and has added two 2015 pledges in the state in Hebron center Zach Rogers and Dallas Bishop Lynch tailback Rawleigh Williams.
Rogers recently suffered a season-ending ankle injury while Williams has rushed for over 900 yards in his first four games and was named the Dallas Morning News Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 310 yards last Friday night.
“I am doing my best to get some of the other Texas talent down here to Arkansas,” Williams said. “The way we are playing right now is going to help.”
Arkansas won at Texas Tech 49-28 earlier this month in Lubbock, has games slated with TCU fin 2016 and 2017, may resume its series with Texas and will play at least once in the state each year with the Southwest Classic.
“We call our guys the TexHogs and we make a huge effort right now for us in recruiting,” Bielema said. “To play every year in Jerry’s Stadium – Cowboys Stadium – to have that opportunity to afford every recruit that we talk to in the state of Texas – really and in Oklahoma and kids from Arkansas – that is a big deal.”
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