Nutt Excited About 2005 Recruiting Start

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson gets the thoughts of UA head coach Houston Nutt and recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn on the fast start to the Razorbacks' 2005 recruiting.

Even before he sends his football team through its first preseason practice of the 2004 season next Tuesday, University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt and his staff are well on their way to a bright beginning to 2005.

That's because with the addition of Texas prep standout Reggie Fish earlier this week the Razorbacks already have 10 verbal pledges to sign with the Razorbacks on the dotted line when gridiron national signing date rolls around on Feb. 2, 2005.

"We're off to a fantastic start and we are very excited about it," Nutt said of a group that includes five Arkansas prospects and five Texas ones.

Four of those pledges - Little Rock Mills safety Elston Forte (6-0, 185, 4.4), Fish and the Richardson (Texas ) Pearce duo of offensive lineman Colin Tucker (6-5, 265) and safety Matt Harris (6-2, 175) - have come since the Arkansas held its Senior Camp back on July 23-24 in Fayetteville.

All came from young men who the Razorbacks got a chance to see during the event. Three of the four were also at Nutt's earlier football camp.

Those up-close evaluations combined with the program having an opportunity to recruit without other programs using what might have happened with the NCAA against the school are things Nutt thinks have gotten the ball rolling with the 2005 class.

"I think the Seniors Camp and all those things have just been so good for our program," Nutt said. "Now that you have really taken the handcuffs off, you think it is going to get better and this last year is a great example."

Not to mention the fact that Nutt has gotten some good publicity and feelings from his decision to stay at Arkansas after a courtship by Nebraska.

"I think it really helped," Nutt said. "A lot of our guys who have already committed have mentioned that...I think it has been real helpful to us. There is nothing like being at home and I am very fortunate to be here in my home state of Arkansas and be the football coach. I'm excited about it and excited about where we are going."

UA recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn said Arkansas was likely going to offer "about 16 or 17" scholarships in this class.

"Our philosophy has always been to get the very best in our own state and then to also go out of state to fill needs in the class and elevate our program," Vaughn said. "We think we are well on the way to doing that."

Arkansas in-state prospects thought to still have scholarship offers from the Razorbacks and not as yet committed anywhere are Fort Smith Southside wideout Slick Shelley (6-4, 190), Bearden linebacker Ben Owens (6-3, 210), Texarkana running back Brandon Barnett, Warren athlete Ricardo Kemp (5-11, 175) and the Little Rock Central quartet of safety Kevin Thornton (6-2, 190), linebacker Antwain Robinson (6-2, 221), wideout Stewart Franks (6-2, 190) and running back Mickey Dean (5-10, 200).

"This is a year where it is a very good group of prospects in Arkansas, some that would love to see go ahead and jump on board and get their spot," Vaughn said. "We feel like we have a bright future ahead of us and want these young men in our state to be a part of it."

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