It didn’t take too long for Connor Noland to recognize that Arkansas’ baseball program wasn’t like most others.
The Greenwood (Ark.) class of 2018 right-handed pitcher/quarterback moved to Arkansas from Reno, Nevada, last winter.
After listening to Trey Holloway, his baseball coach at Greenwood and a pitcher on Arkansas’ 2004 College World Series team, Noland began to realize the Razorbacks had a tradition-rich baseball program.
“I heard before I moved here that Arkansas is a great place and they’ve always been pretty good,” Noland said, “but definitely after I met coach Holloway, hearing from him about Arkansas, it changed my view and gave me some insight.”
It also didn’t take too long for Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn to realize Noland’s talent. He offered him a scholarship on Feb. 4, about two and a half years before he’ll enroll in college.
The Bulldogs played a game in Rogers on Friday, so Noland and his family stayed in Northwest Arkansas and attended the Razorbacks’ Saturday game against Eastern Illinois.
Noland came to several games last season, including the Super Regional, but it was his first time at Baum Stadium with an Arkansas offer.
Although he had to leave in the seventh inning of the Razorbacks’ 12-inning loss, Noland said he still enjoyed his time in Fayetteville.
“I watched batting practice and hung out down there a while, and then talked to the coaches before (the game),” Noland said. “It was good to see the players interact and see how they are before games.”
Northwestern and New Mexico State have offered Noland, as well, but those aren’t the only schools Arkansas will be competing with for his talents.
Despite just completing his sophomore season, Noland already has offers to play quarterback from Arkansas State, Texas A&M and UCLA.
Because he’s still so young, he hasn’t made any decision about playing one sport or the other or both in college.
“Right now, I’m 50/50 on it,” Noland said. “I think about it, but I haven’t made a decision on what I’m going to do. I’m still in the process of determining that.”
The football offer from Texas A&M came a couple weeks after his baseball offer from Arkansas and after the Aggies hired Noel Mazzone from UCLA to be their offensive coordinator.
Noland and Mazzone have known each other for several years.
“I went to a UCLA camp when I was 13, so it’s kind of been a long relationship,” Noland said. “I’ve stayed in contact (with him) and he’s a great guy.”
During the summer, Noland will try to add more offers for both sports by visiting Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Texas A&M.
“I think it’s going to be a great time to see what’s around, see some of the top programs in the country and see what they have to offer with their campus, facilities and coaches, in person,” Noland said.
Regardless of where he eventually ends up, it’s clear that Arkansas has already left an impression on the young two-sport star.
“It’s a great environment for a baseball game and definitely compared to any other team, you get a lot more fans there,” Noland said. “It’s a special place.”