UA's Possible Diamond Gridders

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson talks to former White Sox minor leaguer Rylan Reed (6-6, 285), a 2001 UA signee and potential 2005 Razorback tight end.<br><br> This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website. Click on a banner to find out the details.<br><br>

If things turn out the way University of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt hopes, the Razorback football team could probably field a pretty good intramural baseball team next season.

Already on hand is quarterback/catcher Landon Leach, a former baseball star at Russellville who should be healthy and back from this year's season-ending injury.

Peyton Hillis, Jared Hicks and Michael Robinson are among the current Razorbacks also accomplished on the diamond as well and future Razorbacks Darren McFadden and Michael Smith (who's not committed yet) are also accomplished on the diamond.

You can now toss quarterback/third baseman Cole Barthel into the mix. Barthel originally signed with the Razorbacks in 2001, but chose to go the minor league baseball route instead and spent three injury riddled seasons with the Braves system before calling it a career.

Barthel (6-2, 200, 4.6), a former standout from Decatur, Ala., confirmed last week that he will enroll at Arkansas in January and be a walk on since the Braves are picking up his college tab via a prior agreement.

Barthel will join a bevy of quarterback candidates who would no doubt love to throw to 6-6, 285-pound tight end/pitcher Rylan Reed, another former 2001 signee from Crossett who took the baseball route by signing with the Chicago White Sox.

Reed, a 22-year-old who has put on 25 pounds of muscle since high school, battled through the passing of his father and his own battle with cancer and now has turned his attention to football.

Reed (6-6, 285. 4.9), who is also considering Texas Tech, visited Fayetteville this weekend and took in Arkansas' 35-3 win over Ole Miss where the current starting tight end Jared Hicks happened to catch a couple of touchdown passes.

"I had a great time with baseball, it was a great experience and the opportunity of a lifetime," Reed said. "I couldn't pass it up at the time. I was 18 years old and it was always a dream to play pro ball.

"But going through the death of my father and being a cancer survivor made me find out a little bit more about myself and had a little bit more emergence in my life," Reed continued. "I have missed football and missed the whole college thing and just want to come back and experience it again."

Reed, who is in remission from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after having a tumor and three feet of his intestines removed and then nearly three months of chemotherapy, had already taken an official visit to pass-happy Texas Tech before arriving at Arkansas.

"I would down there for the Texas Tech-Texas game and saw what they had to offer," Reed said. "So I'm now just kind of weighing my options. My family and I will get together and see what's best. Now that my father has gone, it's a little different. We'll just have to look and see what's best for me."

Reed's parents moved to Allen, Texas after his graduation meaning that he could be the third Razorback pick-up from that city just outside of Dallas for next season.

Arkansas already has commitments from Allen defensive end Marcus Shavers (6-4, 245) and quarterback Casey Dick (6-1, 200) and won't have to wait long to know about Reed's choice.

"I want to decide pretty quick," Reed said. "Maybe over Thanksgiving break. We'll just see what is best for the family."

Reed, who would also be a walk on as the White Sox are picking up his college expenses, does admit having a definite affinity for Arkansas.

"The coaches are great and Houston Nutt is just excellent," Reed said. "That's a big deciding factor. That is what I loved before and the support they get from the fans and the way they treat their players. That's a big deal to me."

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