Fort Smith Southside junior Slick Shelley is regarded as one of the nation's best wideouts and he is very fond of the University of Arkansas.
But the Razorbacks have been a ground-dominated offense in the past and for thus for the now 6-5, 190-pound prep star to sign with Arkansas next February will require a leap of faith that the program is moving toward putting more balls in the air in the future.
"I am trying to find a team that is going to pass more than they run," Shelley said. "I am a receiver and I want to see a lot of footballs coming my way. I am going to go find somebody that is going to do that for me."
He believes Arkansas is moving that way with the recent signings of quarterback Robert Johnson, Landon Leach and Alex Mortensen, all young signal callers whose reputations are based more on their arms instead of their legs.
"That's the thing about Arkansas," Shelley said. "They are bringing in guys like Alex Mortensen and talking about passing a lot more, but yet with (current UA starting quarterback) Matt Jones there this year you know that they are going to probably run it more this year. But I really do believe that is what they want to do. I may have to make a leap of faith to go to Arkansas. Like I said, it''s going to be a hard decision for me."
Shelley caught 56 passes for 1,019 yards and 15 touchdowns and then hauled in 62 more catches for 873 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. He also returned 21 kickoffs for an average of 29.1 per attempt while taking one to the house.
"I think I have a lot of versatility and my strength and my speed are my biggest assets," Shelley said. "I am working hard to get my speed down from a 4.5 to a 4.4 and just get bigger, stronger and faster."
Shelley is in Fayetteville this weekend for the Arkansas Athletes Outreach Top 25 Camp, an event which brings the top 50 or so underclassman hoopsters in the state to one site for two days of competition.
He helped lead Southside to the Class AAAAA semifinals this past hoops season with his efforts on the basketball court.
"I like basketball because it is more of a team sport where you have to use everybody on the floor where in football it is usually just me and a defensive back out there one-on-one," Shelley said. "I like both sports, couldn't really say which one I like most and would like to play both in college, but I know which one is going to punch my ticket and that's football."
But his does have fondness for the game of basketball.
"I also find playing basketball helps me to stay in condition and even improve my conditioning following football season," Shelley said. "I just really like both of them."
Plans to play more basketball this summer have been set aside.
"I was going to play AAU basketball this summer, but have decided to get a job and get some money set back for college," Shelley said. "You might get a scholarship, but there's a lot of other stuff you have to have money for. I'll just do that and work in offseason football and basketball."
Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Miami, Florida, Tennessee and co-national champs LSU and USC are among the numerous schools sending Shelley recruiting letters right now with the Razorbacks and Volunteers having already been scholarship offers on the table.
"They are all just trying to put their best foot forward and get ahead in the recruiting game if they can," Shelley said.
"But my mine is lost when it comes to recruiting," Shelley added. "I am getting colleges all over the place sending me letters and stuff, but I am not really going to think about this summer. I want to just put that off, take it easy and then I'll see what teams do next season and go from there."
There has been a lot made about how Shelley, who was born in Berlin, Germany, did not grow up a Razorback fan while living in places like Ohio, California and Hawaii before moving to Fort Smith in the seventh grade after his Army dad decided to retire.
"That's true, but I do like how they work things at Arkansas," Shelley said. "I have been to a couple of their games and like everything about it. It's going to be a hard decision for me because I really do like them a lot."
Shelley, whose only camp plans right now include a trip to Tulsa for a team camp, will admit that he did have one favorite place.
"Now, Hawaii we were there for three years and I really didn't want to leave," Shelley said. "I mean it's Hawaii, man, who would want to leave?"
Arkansas hopes he decides to stay in-state in the end.
"We'll just have to see," Shelley said. "I guess that's kind of 50-50 right now. Will they really start to pass it more? I'll just have to take my time, study it and make the best decision for myself in the end."
UA among schools looking to get Slick
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