Arkansas Enjoying In-State Recruiting Success
The fact that the NFL’s Buffalo Bills have a bye week will allow for some interesting discussion at the Gragg household in Dumas this week.
Former Arkansas star Chris Gragg, now a tight end for the Bills, got a chance to come home and see his family.
That includes younger brother Will, a 6-4, 245-pound tight end who is one of 10 in-state players the Razorbacks offered – all of whom have pledged to sign with the program.
The older Gragg argues that his 2008 recruiting class – which included Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright and coincided with former head coach Bobby Petrino’s arrival – is better than the 2015 Arkansas group.
He’s certainly got a strong argument seeing as how that class was key in winning 21 games over a two-year span and getting to a BCS bowl.
The younger Gragg – whose class just added Fayetteville’s Dre Greenlaw and Nashville’s LaMichael Pettway – thinks his is best.
“It's great to get all these playmakers and keep then in state,” Will Gragg said. “We're all like brothers so we were happy the final two joined in to make this in-state class complete.
“In regards to going 10 for 10, I think we are better than the '08 class,” Gragg added.
It certainly has the chance to be a big jumping off point for current Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, whose entire 17-pledge class is currently rated 17th nationally by Scout.com.
The Arkansas staff has landed this class – spearheaded by in-state recruiter Barry Lunney, Jr., - despite currently riding a 16-game losing streak in SEC contests heading into Saturday night’s game at No. 1 Mississippi State.
“I thought when I got here, we were going to have some windows and some doors open to us, that I didn't know if I'd had before,” Bielema said. “That's probably escalated by a thousand. To have the next-door access to Texas, the opportunity to get into Louisiana. The strong ties that we had already had as a staff in Florida before I became the head coach here.
“But the most important and the most key element for us is the state of Arkansas,” Bielema added. “I knew that coming in. Every year whether it's going to be four players from Arkansas or 14, we need to get every one of them, or at least have a swing at every one of them. That's been going very, very well for us.
“Barry Lunney spear-heads that, but I think Barry would be the first to tell you everybody in-state is a collective effort,” Bielema continued. “Whether it's an O-lineman or a wide receiver or a running back. Whatever it is, not only does Barry and the position coach, but everybody gets involved.”
Pettway came on board publicly Sunday after telling the coaches on Saturday.
"I thought about this a lot, because the class of 2015 in Arkansas, we're pretty huge," Pettway said. "Us being together, that could make a big difference on Arkansas, and that's what we plan on doing in the future."
Charleston quarterback Ty Storey, one of the early pledges in Arkansas’ class, left little doubt about his feelings.
“It's awesome!” Storey said. “Coach B said he wanted to build a fence around the state and it looks like he did that. Hopefully we can get a few more key (out-of-state) players and to build on this great class.”
Conway offensive lineman Colton Jackson was another early pledge to the Razorbacks.
“It's great because Arkansas is doing a great job recruiting all the in-state talent and keeping it in Arkansas,” Stewart said.
Highland wide receiver Deon Stewart is one of several playmakers added to the class along with North Little Rock star and fellow pledge K.J. Hill.
“It's great,” Stewart said. “With K.J and the other guys, I feel like we can make something happen, but adding those guys just make it even better.”
Fort Smith Northside defensive end Daytrieon Dean likes adding a couple of guys that could help on his side of the ball.
“Dre and LaMichael great athletes,” Dean said. “Arkansas just added two of the best players in the state and probably in the country.”
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