Early Kickoffs Not Ideal for Recruiting
At one point, there were some five official visitors scheduled to be on hand for last weekend’s Arkansas-Auburn football game in Fayetteville.
But the game being placed in the 11 a.m. window on the SEC Network reduced that down to just Arkansas linebacker commit Alexy-Jean Baptiste (6-2, 210), whose Pompano Beach, Fla. Coconut Creek squad played on Thursday night this week and whipped Stranahan 64-13 to move to 5-3 on the season.
That underscores one of the Razorback staff’s issues in trying to bring in recruits on officials during the season – the prospects who play on Friday night just can’t get turned around quickly enough to arrive by game time.
“That does hurt us, but really all the game times have some fleas on them,” Arkansas assistant Barry Lunney, Jr. “If it’s too early that’s one thing, but also if it is too late, then parents are hesitant about driving back so late so we might miss out on some kids who want to come up officially and see a game.
“Really you just do the best with whichever hand you are played, worked with the kids and the parents and just see what can be worked out and what is the best time for all involved.”
The Razorbacks follow up last weekend’s early game with a 3 p.m. Homecoming game against Tennessee-Martin next Saturday.
That will allow the Manvel, Texas four-star duo of uncommitted linebacker Jordan Carmouche (6-1, 230) and Ole Miss running back pledge D’Vaughn Pennamon (6-0, 205) to take their official visits that weekend.
Arkansas would certainly like to land both of those young men, both of whom would likely make immediate impacts on their side of the ball.
Razorback linebacker commit De’Jon Harris (6-1, 238), who was scheduled to visit this weekend, has moved his visit to Thanksgiving weekend when Arkansas hosts Missouri.
“It’s just mix and match and do what you can that is best for the kids,” Lunney said.
The Razorbacks also have set up officials for a pair of uncommitted offensive lineman in Snow, UT, College star Garrett Boles (6-5, 300) and Riverside, Calif., Community College standout Dwayne Wallace (6-5, 338).
Razorback head football coach Bret Bielema talked earlier this week about where his program is and where he wants it to be.
“In terms of where you want to be, the problem with all of us is we want to be at a higher level,” Bielema said. “We want to be in a situation where you are in the running for a championship every year, year run and year out.
“You have to deal with the facts of where you are. I haven’t really dwelled too much on where the program was. I know what it was with the players and the coaches, kind of having an understanding.
“But what you want to do is just continue to grow every day. That’s what we have asked them to do. I know it’s not at the pace that everybody wants but I couldn’t be more proud of the work we have made, the progress that we have made.
“We would love to have a couple of more wins along the way but I have said this all along and mean it with all my heart, two and half years into this, I have never consciously skipped a step to get somewhere fast.
“We try to be diligent with what we are doing and who we bring and the type of players that we recruit to the type of players that we develop to get better on a daily basis.
“We have a guard right now (senior Sebastian Tretola) that wasn’t even in consideration two years ago, that we think is the best in his class as far as who can go on to the NFL.
“We have had five or six guys that have had some pretty serious injuries but we have had young men step into their roles.
“Drew Morgan has done an outstanding job. Rawleigh Williams stepping in for Jonathan Williams. Some wide receivers stepping in for guys we lost for a large amount of time. So you just have to try and get better and make the most of a situation.”
Bielema notes that the Razorbacks were warmly received on the recruiting trail, one they hit hard during the bye week.
He also talked about how players know they can come in and have that immediate impact.
“We are recruiting kids that know we are not quite there yet and know they can come in and make an immediate impact and I think that is a big deal.
“We have recruited in the right way. We have looked for the right type of kid, a kid that loves football, a kid that is going to do things academically, that we don’t have to worry about how far he is going to come along, that gets really exciting.”
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