Jason Ivester

Lunney Knows That Arkansas Feeling is Special

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson chats with former Arkansas quarterback and current Razorback tight ends coach Barry Lunney, Jr., about the special feeling an in-state kid gets from playing in the program. This story is free and courtesy of the NWA Chevy Dealers. Click the banner to learn more.

When discussing the emergence of junior wide receiver Dominique Reed earlier this week, Arkansas head football coach referenced Razorback tight ends coach Barry Lunney, Jr., in his Monday press conference.

Now there is not much alike about Reed - who had three touchdown catches and one rush for a TD in the last four games - and Lunney. But there is one big thing that ties them together. Both grew up wanting to be Razorbacks and got to live that dream.

That is the same thing with the four in-state kids that Arkansas has commitments from in the 2016 class. That's Smackover wide receiver Jordan Jones, Hope defensive tackle McTelvin Agim, Star City defensive tackle Austin Capps and Pulaski Robinson tailback-receiver T.J. Hammonds. They are the only kids in state that the Razorbacks offered this recruiting cycle.

Reed, a former Camden Fairview star,  had to detour to Coffeyville, Kan., Community College before heading to Arkansas, but made it this season.

“I think for each kid it is different, but you talk about a guy like Dominique and I think he would openly admit that he wanted to be here,” Lunney said. “He kind of took a long, winding path to get here and I was kind of talking about that with him the other day.

“I know we are all glad the path ended up with him here, that he made it and I think there is nobody happier about it than him. He is getting to do what he wanted.”

Arkansas' four in-state 2016 commits - Jordan Jones, T.J. Hammonds, McTelvin Agim and Austin Capps

Lunney notes that the Arkansas kids have whole communities behind them when they sign with the Razorbacks.

“A lot of kids when they grow up and see the attention and the media coverage and the exposure the Razorbacks get, it becomes extremely important to them and becomes their goal,” Lunney said.

“When guys get a chance to do that, it just means a lot to them and it means they have got a community behind them.

“Camden is behind Dominique Reed, he is a source of pride for them when he does well and plays. Greenwood feels the same way about Drew Morgan. 

“They are vested not only here, but home and in their communities. They have got people pulling for them, encouraging and counting on them to a degree.

“I think it adds a level of commitment to the program and to the Razorbacks.”

Arkansas would love to fill its roster with in-state kids, but can never count on that year-to-year as evidenced by the 11 in-state kids signed in 2015 and the four who have been offered in the 2016 class.

“It is really critical and history says that,” Lunney said. “That’s not an opinion, history says that.

“As you know from covering recruiting, Coach Bielema has opened up some doors in areas across the country that maybe haven’t been open before as far as previous regimes so to speak we have kind of broaden our horizons there.

“But it also will start here with what you have here. You have to be real thorough in your own borders every year on trying to identify guys that can fit your numbers, fit your needs.

“Every year is different not only in the number of guys in state, but what we are looking for each year.

“There are certain years when we might be taking 25 - a full class - and we can take an extra guy that maybe can be a developmental guy that can play down the line for us.

“There are other years in which we are really small in what we can take and what we can’t so we may not be able to offer a kid that the year before he could have been offered.

“Each year is not black-and-white, there is some grey there. I just think we have to continue to do our due diligence.

“It certainly doesn’t mean we have got it 100 percent right every time, but we have got to try and make our mark each time.”

Former Arkansas quarterback and current tight ends coach Barry Lunney, Jr.

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