State of the Hogs: Wooooo!!!!!

Creating explosive plays is the goal for new Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos. Dominique Reed made him go "woooo!!!!" The Hogs filled needs with their recruiting class, including athletic wide receivers and an impressive defensive line group.

There's nothing wrong with the star system. It's fine for what it is, a way to judge individual recruits. But adding up the stars doesn't tell the entire story to grade an entire recruiting class.

There's nothing in the recruiting rankings about filling needs, always the top priority each season.

That's why when Bret Bielema told the media on Wednesday that his class filled needs, I nodded in agreement.

The story around the state is probably about the one that got away, but it should be more about the way Arkansas filled the gaping hole at wide receiver with over the top speed and athletic ability with Dominique Reed, La'Michael Pettway and Deon Stewart.

It brought a smile to the face of new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, perhaps with visions of what Titus Davis did for him in the way of explosive plays the last four seasons at Central Michigan. I'm guessing that all three of those heard about his main man Titus over the last two weeks as Bielema's new play caller explained his vision for the Arkansas offense.



Davis averaged over 18 yards per catch three of the last four seasons for Enos, including 20.8 in the 2012 campaign. It's that vertical threat that the Hogs sorely missed the last two seasons, working mainly to hit the tight ends in horizontal routes. Keon Hatcher led the Hogs' wideouts last season at 13.0 per catch.

Enos knew the importance of closing on Reed, the last big piece to the 2015 class. The 6-3, 172-pound Camden Fairview product has been timed below 4.3 in the 40, something that Enos loves.

“We signed an A plus plus group at wide receiver,” said Enos, who admitted to saying a long “woooo” when he saw Reed's tape for the first time.

“That's an outstanding get,” Enos said. “I saw that tape and I said, 'We've got to find a way to get him.' I talked to him several times. He has tremendous speed. But I think all three can provide immediate help.

“I saw Pettway play basketball and he has outstanding size and speed. He has great athletic ability. Stewart blew me away with his athletic ability. He's quick and athletic and with great body control.”

Reed picked the Hogs after considering Texas and Arizona State in the end and there was a late visit to Auburn. Enos said the Coffeyville, Kan., Community College blazer wanted to hear his vision for the offense in the last few days.

“He did have questions,” Enos said, “like all receivers. They want to know are you going to get them the ball and how often. I told him this offense is about getting them the ball.”

The vision is to pound the run, then open up the vertical seams. That's what he did at CMU with Davis.

“Dominique wanted to know the plans,” Enos said. “Does he fit? Every one of them wanted to know that. That's the vision, getting them the ball.

“Certainly, they are going to have to earn (playing time), but we are going to throw it. They are going to get it a lot.

“The plan is to create explosive plays. I did explain what we did at CMU the last four years (with Davis), what he averaged. What we are doing with the run game is designed to create that vertical passing game. It all starts with the way we will run it. That's what I told them.”

I was interested in how much Enos has spent with senior quarterback Brandon Allen and how far along his meetings on philosophy have been with the rest of the offensive coaching staff. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said there have been two meetings covering 10 hours this week.

"It's a good fit," Pittman said. "I knew that when we went up to Michigan to talk to him as a staff. That's a very unusual situation, to do that and Bret was very smart to do that. I had not been involved in something like that before. I appreciated the chance to do that."

Enos said it made his family comfortable with making the move. Perhaps it was more about that than letting the Arkansas staff participate in the interview.

"I don't know that I was going to ask too many questions to a head coach," said Barry Lunney, the tight ends coach. "I think it was probably more for Dan to get to know us. But it went well. We all were comfortable after doing it. We've made some recruiting trips together and I think it's going to work well."

Pittman said, "It's the right fit. I had a couple of questions for Dan, but I'm not going to share them."

Enos said he's excited about Allen and really all areas of the offensive returning players. He made mention about each group specifically, including Allen and tight end Hunter Henry.

"I have watched about six game or seven full tapes at this point," Enos said. "Brandon is excited and I'm excited. I've inherited a senior quarterback four times. I think most times that's a situation that rejuvenates everybody. It's good to have a new voice, sometimes. It re-stirs the juices.

"Brandon is very talented. He's got a live arm, he's tough, has good mobility. He's got a toughness and mind."

Enos said his time the last couple of mornings to start to cover philosophy and terminology in the coaching room has been fun.

"We have gotten through some things," he said. "I think we will have a very cohesive group. It will be a group effort, not the Dan Enos show. We have four bright coaches in the room with me. Coach Bielema raved about the four coaches he had when we talked and when I met them, I can see why he felt that way."

The defense got some great fits, too. Coordinator Robb Smith needed defensive linemen to replace Darius Philon and Trey Flowers. Just like Reed gives an immediate boost from the JC ranks for Enos, Smith got it with mid-term enrollees Jeremiah Ledbetter, possibly the next Philon, and Denmark native Hjalte Froholdt.

Philon's decision to leave early for the NFL draft put the Hogs in motion to add defensive linemen. T. J. Smith from Badin, N.C., hit the spot.

“We committed some resources and efforts and took a few more guys up front,” Smith said. “When you want to play great defense, you need a great front four, and you need to develop depth there. I feel like we addressed all our needs in this class.

“Right now we've got the guys on campus in Hjalte and Jeremiah. Ledbetter is doing flips every other day in the weight room. That's a positive. … Everything we do, it all starts up front and we need to develop our depth there, and I think we addressed our needs in this class.”

There's also Jamario Bell and Daytrieon Dean to go with Smith, Ledbetter and Froholdt in the defensive front.

“I thought programatically we gained a lot of momentum between the success we had at the end of the season and then with the bowl game to kind of help put things over the top,” Smith said. “I thought we started to have a really good feeling with the guys we had committed right around that time.”

Programatically? That might be a new word, but I get it.

The stress of recruiting will do that to you, leave you searching for new concepts. Maybe Enos didn't know he'd come up with the start of the favorite phrase for Arkansas fans, noting a fast wideout had the “woooo” factor. I give it an A plus plus.

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