Stadium Atmosphere Excites UA Recruits

While minds obviously greater than mine argue whether halftime musical guest Big Smith was a big hit or a hick bit, I am confident of a couple of things about Arkansas' 27-10 win over visiting Alabama.

To start with, it's definitely the first time that I have ever heard Crimson Tide faithful grumbling afterwards about having the score run up on them -- and that includes the 42-6 thrashing the Razorbacks gave them in Fayetteville back in 1998.

Also playing -- and winning -- on national television is just about as good a publicity as a program can get when it comes to out-of-state recruits.

That was evident once again on Sunday when talking to several offensive line recruits, who had watched the Arkansas-Alabama game.

Take 6-4, 310-pound offensive lineman Everett Edwards of Houston North Shore (4-0).

"I loved watching that game," Edwards said. "I really like Arkansas and their style of play. They run the ball, but are also very balanced and make big plays in the passing game. The crowd was great also."

Edwards' short list includes Arkansas, Texas A&M, Miami, LSU and hometown Houston.

"I'm definitely going to come up for an official visit," Edwards said. "I like what I see on TV. The crowd really looks into it."

The same goes for Wisconsin's Jose Valdez (6-6, 305), who watched the game from his living room in Saint Francis.

"I got to see both the Texas game (on ESPN) and the Alabama game," said Valdez, whose team is 5-0 this season. "I think they are looking great so far and the atmosphere looks great on TV."

Valdez, also being recruited by Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Ball State, will get an up close look at Arkansas when he and his brother travel to see the Razorbacks' game with LSU in Little Rock on Nov. 26 -- another CBS national broadcast.

He'll be back in the state one week later for the start of his official visit to Fayetteville on Dec. 4-6.

"I'm looking forward to both trips," Valdez said. "Arkansas really has my attention."

Unlike the other two, Razorback commit and Texas prep standout Colin Tucker (6-5, 265) of Richardson Pearce and Travis Olexa (6-3, 290) of Houston St. Thomas have gotten both up-close and faraway looks at the Razorbacks since both were on hand for the Texas game and watched the Bama one on TV.

"I loved it," Tucker said of the Texas game. "It was an amazing atmosphere, just the wrong team won. Watching them beat Alabama on Saturday got me pumped. I can't wait to get up there and contribute."

Olexa is drawing interest from Arkansas, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, TCU and Oklahoma State, but does not have a scholarship offer from any of that group as of yet,

"I loved it and the atmosphere was definitely one of the best there could ever be for a college game," Olexa added. "Arkansas is at the top of my list."

Arkansas also has a commitment from Russellville's Joey Crossland (6-6, 304) to go along with Tucker and expects to sign three or four more.

Some others known to be in the recruiting mix are Hoxie's Drew Gardner (6-7, 305), Memphis East's Malcolm Rawls (6-4, 300), Paul Edwards (6-6, 296) of McKenzie, Tenn., James Stigall (6-3, 290) of Blue Springs, Mo., George "Big Duke" Robinson of Atlanta Booker T. Washington and Eric Hedstrom (6-6, 265) of Mount Prospect, Illinois.

For the record, I enjoyed the halftime show. But not one recruit said anything about it during my numerous calls this week keeping alive a long standing streak of what might matter to fans, but doesn't matter to prospects.

Dudley Dawson is a staff writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine. His column appears every Tuesday. Email:

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