Vinnett becomes No. 21 for Hogs

Razorbacks look to California junior college for star cornerback and kick returner who could make immediate impact in three different areas.

One of the hottest names on the Arkansas football recruiting scene these days is a guy that has seemingly come out of nowhere.

That would be 5-9, 170-pound Darius Vinnett, a star cornerback and kick returner for West Hills Community College in LeMoore, Calif., who has recorded a 4.26 in the 40-yard dash.

Published reports indicate Vinnett verbally agreed Tuesday night to become a Razorback and becomes the 21st to pledge a commitment to sign with Arkansas.

Vinnett, who was a star in high school for Destrehan in Saint Rose, La., was not even on the Razorback recruiting radar until December.

"I was hearing from several other schools and had some some visits, but Arkansas jumped into the mix in December and moved to the top of the list right away," Vinnett said. "They have had a lot of success, Coach Houston Nutt is a great coach, there is playing time there for a cornerback and they need a kick returner also. I feel like I could be that guy."

Vinnett is coming off a season where had 56 tackles, nine pass break ups, one interception, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and 19 kickoff returns for 444 yards (23.4 yard average).

"They have told me how they their kickoff return guy and punt return guy is a senior that is graduating and they are looking for somebody to come in and take that spot over," Vinnett said. "I see the field really well and I've got great speed."

Vinnett, who wore No. 2 on the football field, returned Sunday from an official visit to Louisville and had already been to San Jose State back on the weekend on Dec. 5-7.

"...Louisville was real nice with nice facilities and I think their players really have a will to win," Vinnett added. "San Jose State was cool as well, but I just don't think they matchup with Arkansas and that is why I will probably end up there."

There has been a lot of talk about just how tall Vinnett is - estimates have ranged from 5-7 to his listed 5-10 - and if he will be able to cover tall wideouts in the SEC.

"Tell them I am 5-9 - that's truly how tall I am," Vinnett said. "I know that's not very tall, but I feel like when you are my height, you better bring some more elements to the table. I do with my speed, my ability to jump routes and the fact that I have a nearly 40-inch vertical jump."

Vinnett, who amazingly has never run track, used those strengths to intercept seven passes his senior season - two that he took back for scores - and knock down 12 others while racking up over 100 tackles.

"I thought I had a pretty good career on the field, but didn't put enough effort into it in the classroom and my grades came up short," Vinnett said. "That's why I ended up having to go the junior college route. One of my high school coaches knew the coach at West Hills and it just got worked out where I went out there."

West Hills went 7-4 this season and capped off the year with a 28-24 win over Laney in the Grafitti Bowl.

"I think I have developed as a football player, as a person and as a student and the competition has been at much higher level than it was in high school," Vinnett said. "I am now ready to go to a place like Arkansas and keep it going."

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