Eaton has Arkansas' interest peaked

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson write about Dallas prep basketball and football star Byron Eaton, Arkansas' hoop targets at the Kingwood Classic AAU tournament last weekend in Houston and this Saturday's FCA football combine in Little Rock. The Arkansas Toyota Dealers have a special promotion for Razorback baseball. Click on a banner to enter a contest for free tickets to Razorback baseball.

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He's fast, he's a quarterback that's known more for his legs than his arms and he's a very good basketball player as well.

While all of those are certainly characteristics of current University of Arkansas singal caller Matt Jones, they also describe Dallas prep sensation Byron Eaton, who was a standout at this past weekend's 10th annual Kingwood Classic AAU hoops tournament in Houston.

The 5-11, 210-pound Eaton is a two-sport star for Lincoln High School, torching opponents on the gridiron and the basketball court with his quickness, his toughness and his athletic ability.

"He's a bowling ball," notes recruiting analyst Dave Telep of the The Insiders network. "He is Jerome Bettis with a basketball. He is fast, built for speed and just loves contact."

Arkansas head coach Stan Heath was scheduled to be on hand Tuesday for an open gym session of Eaton's on Tuesday.

He is a player that many grid program want to just play football, many hoops coaches would love to see just play basketball.

Eaton, a top 50 player in basketball and top 100 one in football, himself said Saturday that he is strongly considering playing both in college.

"As of right now, I want to play both, but it is something I am going to have to think a lot about," Eaton said. "I love both of them and I think I can succeed at both of them if that's what I choose to do."

Eaton, who could also line up at running back, said Saturday that Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State are the top four schools on his list.

"I really like Coach Heath and Arkansas," Eaton said. "I am looking forward to checking them out more." Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and K-State are really about it right now. I am going to look at who is serious about me playing both - even if I don't decide to - and where there is playing time available."

Easton accounted for over 1,600 yards total offense this past season while rushing for 956 yards and 12 touchdowns and passing for 673 yards and 9 touchdowns with only two interceptions.

"I need to work on passing the ball and being more of a double threat so teams can't just key on my running," Eaton said. "I can do a lot of good things out there, but you always have to work to be better."

On the basketball court, He averaged 20 points, 8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 5 steals for a team that went 32-6 and lost in the state championship finals 63-61 to Houston Jones on a last second-bucket by Daniel Gibson.

"I think the best part of my game is how strong I take it to the hole," Eaton said. "I need to work on being able to fill it up more."

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Eaton was just one of many guards that Heath and assistant Taliaferro were observed watching at the Kingwood Classic in Houston this past weekend.

Some of the other 2005 point guard prospects that Arkansas seems interested in and watched in Houston included:

•  6-1 Denis Clemente Miami Calusa Prep

• 6-4 Richard Delk Jackson (Tenn.) North

• 6-1 Javon Adams Houston Gulfshore Academy

•  6-2 Marcus Walker Kansas City (Mo.) Cardinal O'Hara

• 6-0 Henry Dugat Dayton, Texas

• 6-0 Walter Hodge Florida Air Academy

• 5-10 Sharuad Curry Wheeler, Ga.

• 6-4 Harvey Perry Las Vegas

* 6-4 Jesse Sapp New York City

Junior combo guards or small forwards at the Kingwood Classic that the Razorbacks seemed to be evaluating were:

• 6-5 Reginald Delk Jackson (Tenn.) North

• 6-6 C.J. Miles Dallas Skyline

* 6-7 Brandon Rush Mt. Zion Christian Academy

• 6-5 David Huertas Jacksonville (Fla .) Arlington County Day

• There were also a few big men and tons of sophomores to see at the event and several players that weren't at the event that Arkansas is still recruiting.

The three-day event, which featured 189 teams playing some nearly 400 games in the 17-and-under division alone, was like one-stop shopping for the over 250 major college coaches that were on hand.

Heath said he and Taliaferro saw some 30 or players the UA has interest in.

"There was a little bit of everything," Heath said of the evaluation. "It was yea or nay, he's better than him, he fits our needs a little bit better, he is not going to help us or here is a couple of more guys that we need to get on."

Heath was clear about what Arkansas' needs are for its class of 2005.

"Shooters," Heath said. "We need a couple of guys that can stroke the ball. I would like to get a couple of guys that can stroke the ball. I would like to get a couple of guards and a big man depending on how many we have. Right now we have just two (pending Al Jefferson's decision) so you always have to keep a window open."

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Although some of the state's best football players will be at other combines or playing baseball or basketball this weekend, some 300 will be on hand at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Saturday for the invitation-only FCA Combine.

Some of the state's top grid prospects that Arkansas has shown interest in that are expected to be there are El Dorado's Brandon Payne, Malvern's Brandon Bradford, Wynne's Cord Gray, Dumas' Robert Mingo, Little Rock Mills' Elston Forte, Little Rock McClellan's Reggie Arnold and Cordero Mills, Little Rock Central's Charles Alexander, Russellville's Joey Crossland and El Dorado Westside Christian's Brandon Ford.

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