Off all the prospects visiting Arkansas this final weekend of the 2016 recruiting cycle, perhaps no one is feeling more thankful and excited right now than North Dakota State College of Science cornerback Joseph Putu (6-2, 195, 4.37).
Putu, a native of the Ivory Coast who had a whopping 10 interceptions this season for the school in Wahpeton, N.D., was a lightly-recruited player headed into January.
He also had 55 tackles, 5 forced fumbles and 8 fumble recoveries during a campaign in which he was named a second-team All-American.
But Putu got his highlight tape to a scouting service, it got out to a bevy of coaches and the young man blew up.
Arkansas was the first school from a Power 5 conference to get to him and were followed by Texas A&M, Florida, Tennessee, UCLA, Nebraska, West Virginia and Iowa State.
“It is just amazing what has happened to me in these last few weeks,” Putu said Wednesday. “If I didn’t have all those picks and my tape had not got out there, none of this would be happening for me. I feel so blessed.
“No one comes to North Dakota to recruit. I mean no one. It’s just so out of the way and the players there just don’t get any attention.
“I am so glad I got my highlights out there and everybody started coming after me.”
Putu is expected to join a group of prospects in Fayetteville this weekend that also includes Katy, Texas tailback Kyle Porter (5-11, 190), San Bernardio, Calif. Community College offensive lineman Paul Ramirez (6-7, 295).
There are also at least two others on the visit list in Moultrie, Ga., Colquitt County linebacker Dee Walker (6-3, 210) and Marshall, Texas safety Micah Smith (5-11, 185).
Putu, who played his high school football at Providence, R.I., Mount Pleasant, took official visits to Tennessee State and UAB before his tape got out and took one to Toledo on Monday through Wednesday.
He will fly to Fayetteville on Thursday night and begin his official visit to Arkansas on Friday.
“I want to visit Arkansas because I think they have great coaches and because they were on me before all of these other schools,” Putu said. “Arkansas was loyal to me and I am going to be loyal to Arkansas. All the attention from the other schools is nice, but Arkansas is the place for me to go see and check out.”
Arkansas defensive coordinator Rob Smith has been Putu’s chief recruiter.
“He was here to see me last Thursday and will be here to see me this Thursday along with (Razorback head) Coach (Bret) Bielema before I fly down there,” Putu said. “He has me very excited about playing at Arkansas and playing in the SEC.”
Putu loves playing man-to-man defense.
“I feel like my length and speed to best use when I am playing man-to-man,” Putu said. “I love to do that. I can also play zone and do whatever my coach needs me to do, but I do like going man-to-man best.”