Sunshine State Connection

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson talks Arkansas' apparent recruiting success in Florida.<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 you are going to spend time and resources recruiting in Florida, it certainly doesn't hurt to come back with a couple of pre-Christmas presents.

That's what the University of Arkansas is on the verge of accomplishing with one in a very big box and one in a rather small one - both delivered by UA recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn.

The small box would contain Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards tailback Michael Smith (5-8, 170, 4.4), who is likely to make a commitment to the Razorbacks in the next day or two.

"The visit went great and I was really impressed with what I saw," Smith said of his official trek to Fayetteville this past weekend. "I had done a lot of research and knew what to expect so there weren't really any surprises. I had high expectations and they were met."

The big box contains a verbal pledge in the form of Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay offensive lineman Mike Aguirre (6-5, 305), who committed to the Razorbacks before he left campus on Sunday at the end of his official visit this past weekend.

"I just liked everything about the whole place," Aguirre said. "The coaches, the facilities, the people I met in the town and the competitive atmosphere they all have. They want their Razorbacks to be the best and that's what the coaches and the players strive for each day."

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Smith is a name Razorback fans became familiar with very early on in the process when he was offered a scholarship this past August after a junior season where he rushed for over 1,400 yards and scored 21 touchdowns.

He suffered a knee injury in the final game of his junior season, but came back to put up over 2,200 all-purpose yards in his senior season while carrying, catching and returning the ball.

Smith also has drawn interest from Purdue, Florida, Auburn, LSU, West Virginia and Northwestern just to name a few.

Arkansas coaches expect to find many ways to utilize him, just as the Rickards coaches have done the past few seasons.

"They have talked about me coming in and giving them a breakaway threat that can be used right away," Smith said. "They told me they don't have a player like me that can get in behind those big offensive linemen, hit the hole and be gone for anybody knows what happens. They told me they are going to have several ways to get me the ball."

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Aguirre is a big young man who was not on the Razorback recruiting radar until a few weeks ago, but Arkansas is feeling good about landing a guy who had begun to receive increased interest after shining in one of the three all-star games he is playing in.

He has canceled a planned visit to Southern Illinois and told Kansas State there is no reason to come and visit him as planned.

"I am a Razorback - loyal and true now," Aguirre said. "Not even USC, Oklahoma or even UM (Miami) could take me away from them now. I'm done with recruiting. I'm signing with Arkansas."

Aguirre was very impressed with UA assistant Mike Markuson, who will be his position coach in college.

"I could tell the way he was talking to me that he is a very straight forward guy and that he will except nothing but the best from you," Aguirre said. "It seems to me he is going to be a tough, tough guy, but a father figure, too."

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