Armed with a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas, Bearden linebacker Ben Owens, Jr. took the field on Monday morning at Houston Nutt's football camp wanting to show he was worth it.
Owens (6-2, 210, 4.55), whose stock has jumped as much as any in-state prospect this spring and summer, certainly looked the part of big-time linebacker as he went through drills and a couple of challenge plays against others late in the workout.
"This is my first one (football camp) and I am going to make it a memorable one," Owens said. "I'm real excited about my (40-yard-dash) time last night and this morning's practice. It's great to go up against some of the other guys you read about in the paper and test yourself against the best. These camps test who you really are."
Owens got an offer from Arkansas a couple of weeks ago and Vanderbilt also placed one on the table at the end of last week.
The top student also continues to get interest from Princeton, Purdue, Memphis and Miami (Fla.) among others, but said Oklahoma's interest has cooled recently about the time he got the UA's offer.
"It's great for Arkansas to go ahead and offer me like that ," Owens said. "It means a lot to me and shows me how much they want me. It seems like they really, really want me to be part of the family."
He is coming off a banner season in which he had 81 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions on defense and 1,347 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns last season while averaging 8.8 yards per carry for an 8-4 Class AA Bearden squad.
The trip to camp is his first trip to Fayetteville and he is enjoying taking everything in so far in his first two days.
"Everything is nice and there is a great energy around here, something that I really like and enjoy being around," Owens said. "The fans are behind you and just walking around the stadium and the other facilities, it's just so impressive what they have up here."
Any chance of a possible early commit to Arkansas?
"I am getting more and more letters every week and it is just getting down to the nitty gritty," Owens said. "I have a little checklist. I am going to look at facilities, the graduation rates, possible playing time. Then I am just going to go with the feel and wherever the Lord leads me that is where I am going to go. I do love Arkansas. It's my home state and that means a lot."
Owens said his mom is looking more at the schools known for their academic reputations than their athletic ones.
"My mom is pushing me to go to one of the schools that is known more for its education than its sports, but I want to play football for somebody great and get a good education while I am doing that, " Owens said. "That's what I want."
Owens and the fellow campers heard loud bursts of noise from nearby Baum Stadium on Sunday as Arkansas' baseball team was rallying in two straight games to beat Wichita State in the NCAA Baseball Regional to advance to a date with Florida State in the Super Regional.
"That's just great and that's the energy of the fans that I am talking about," Owens said. "They love their Razorbacks."
But Owens admitted their was plenty of noise going on at football camp - which lasts through Wednesday morning - to drown out the baseball crowd at other times.
"Guys were jumping up and down rooting each other on," Owens said. "That's what I like. It's been a great group of guys supporting one another."
Owens loves that Fayetteville energy
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