Georgia Prospects Have High Interest In Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE -- From Texas to Georgia, the Arkansas football staff is on the recruiting trail this week evaluating some of the top prospects in the south.

Newnan, Ga., offensive/defensive lineman Sergio Render is hoping Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker stops by his high school to see him play tonight.

"We've stayed in touch with each other, so hopefully he's headed to see me play," Render said.

Render (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) is close with Arkansas defensive lineman Earnest Mitchell, a true freshman who also hails from Newnan.

"I'm real good friends with him," Render said. "He's always telling me about how much he likes Arkansas."

Render verbally committed to Florida State coach Bobby Bowden this summer, but then made a decision to reopen his recruitment, which wasn't popular in Seminole country.

"I kind of got caught up in the moment, so I committed early," Render said. "Now that I look back on it, I should have waited it out. I think my decision to open my recruiting back up made the Florida State coaches mad, I haven't heard from them since."

Besides Arkansas, Render is being recruited by Ole Miss, South Carolina and Virgina Tech. He also has made unofficial visits to Georgia and Florida State.

"Those are the schools on my final list and I'm visiting Arkansas and Ole Miss for sure," Render said. "I'm looking for a school with strong academics and football tradition.

"And I'd like the opportunity to play as a true freshman."

Render plays on both sides of the ball and is mainly being recruited as a defensive lineman.

"That's the position I'd prefer to play in college," Render said. "I like defense a little more than offense, it's about being physical."

Render has a core GPA of 2.4 and a 21 on his ACT, making him eligible to fully qualify academically under the NCAA's sliding scale.

This season, Render has 37 tackles and 2 sacks despite playing only on first down and short yardage situations on defense in order to keep his legs fresh to block on offense.

Render bench presses 435 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds.

"The weight room is my home away from home," Render said. "I'm in there at least four days a week."

TWO-SPORTER CONSIDERING ARKANSAS
College Park (Ga.) Banniker athlete Carlos Thomas (6-0, 175, 4.34) has more than 18 scholarship offers already, but has trimmed his list of suitors down to eight.

"It feels good to have that many universities offering me a full ride," Thomas said. "But I stay humble and continue to work hard everyday."

Thomas likes Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU and Ohio State.

"All those are good schools, so I'm still undecided on which ones I'm going to visit," Thomas said. "Florida is still in the mix even though coach (Ron) Zook and his staff won't be there next year (after being fired this week)."

As far as Arkansas is concerned, Thomas liked what he saw out of the Hogs in a 20-14 loss to Georgia last weekend. Being a sprinter, he's also drawn to the powerful track program.

"I had the chance to watch Arkansas and Georgia last weekend on TV and Arkansas looked good versus one of the top teams in the country," Thomas said. "Plus, I'm definitely running track in college and Arkansas has the best track program in the country year in and year out," Thomas said.

Thomas was last spring's Class AAA Champion in the 100 meters with a time of 10.31 seconds. He runs the 200 meters in 21.2.

In football, Thomas has 28 receptions for 751 yards and 10 touchdowns at receiver, while recording 2 interceptions as a cornerback on defense. Most schools are recruiting him as a receiver, the position he prefers.

"I like to have the ball in my hands so I can make a big play," Thomas said. "It fires my teammates and the fans up."

Thomas also is being dually recruited by Rocker for football and Arkansas assistant track coach Lance Brauman who coaches Arkansas sprinters.

"I've talked to both of them on the phone, but I'm looking forward to getting to know them better in the future," Thomas said.

SHELLEY WATCH
Fort Smith Southside receiver Slick Shelley (6-4, 190, 4.5) has decided it's time to sit down with his parents to discuss his future.

"The last couple of evenings we've been talking about my options, what I want to do, which schools I'll visit and things like that," Shelley said. "It's going to be a tough decision to make.

"If I decide to leave the state, then I'll be prepared because I've moved my whole life."

Shelley has plans to visit Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.

"Those are more than likely the schools that I'm going to visit," Shelley said. "I've been to Arkansas so many times, I've decided to make that my last visit."

Shelley is being recruited by Arkansas assistant and recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn.

"Coach Vaughn has been straight forward with me," Shelley said. "He's told me that I'm one of their top priorities this year, which is good to know."

On the season, Shelley leads the AAAAA-West with 58 receptions for 658 yards and 6 touchdowns

One plus for Arkansas is that Shelley has watched the progression of receiver Marcus Monk, a true freshman who's tied for the team league in receptions.

"I think it helps them (Arkansas) a lot," Shelley said. "He's showing now that he should have been on the field from the beginning, but I understand that you have to learn the system first."

BRETT BRADLEY COVERS RECRUITING FOR THE MORNING NEWS. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH FRIDAY.

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