Stoltz to Arkansas

Former Pulaski Academy star linebacker Matt Stoltz talks about his plans to transfer from LSU to the University of Arkansas.

What has been rumored for awhile became a reality on Monday when former Pulaski Academy star Matt Stoltz confirmed he will be transferring from LSU to the University of Arkansas.

Stoltz (6-3, 235, 4.6) freshman middle linebacker who redshirted this season, was granted his official release and it became public on the same day LSU announced former Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles as its new head coach to replace Nick Saban.

It's not that Stoltz was unhappy at LSU, but wants to be near his father who is currently battling throat cancer.

"It's kind of bittersweet because of the reason I am leaving and the fact that I will miss some of the friends I have made," Stoltz said. "But I also grew up loving Arkansas and can't wait for the thrill of putting that Razorback jersey on."

Stoltz, who will get the actual release in the mail as he is back in the state already, was the 2003 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arkansas and had a whopping 355 tackles during high school career despite missing half his junior year with an injury.

He could actually be eligible to play in 2005 for the Razorbacks if the NCAA approves a hardship that is pending for him.

"The last time we talked to the NCAA about it was a couple of weeks ago and they said they believed it would be approved because of my circumstances," Stoltz said. "We should know something in the near future. We just have to turn some paperwork in and then they will let us know."

If Stoltz does make it on the field for the Razorbacks next season, they can give thanks to Saban, who left LSU to take over the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

"Coach Saban was so great when I talked to him about it a couple of weeks ago," Stoltz said. "He has talked to the NCAA and is writing a letter saying that he thinks it is the right thing to do to allow me to play next season and not have to sit out the season you normally do if you transfer."

Stoltz, who bench presses 350 pounds and has a whopping 36-inch vertical leap, also believes he will be a better player for Arkansas because he went to LSU and spent time learning this season.

"They had some excellent coaches down there and I think they really helped me develop during the year,'" Stoltz said. "I listen intently and really learned as much about being mentally tough on every play as I did learning physical things. It will make me a better player down the line."

Stoltz had 147 tackles and seven sacks as a senior after a monster sophomore year in which he had 162 tackles and 8 sacks and a junior year where he broke his ankle the week before the season and played in the final seven games with reduced mobility.

He was named one of ESPN's Top 25 inside linebacker in the 2004 class and had interest from Arkansas, defending national champion LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Things did not work out with the Razorbacks and that left feelings hurt on both sides, but that all seems to be water under the bridge now.

"I've been a Razorback fan all my life and my dad took me to all the games when I was growing up," Stoltz said. "It's interesting things worked out like they did, but I am just glad to be coming back to my home state and getting a chance to play for Arkansas."

He'll join former Pulaski Academy teammates in offensive lineman Jonathan Luigs and wideout John Aaron Rees on UA roster and there is also a chance that former Bruins cornerback Stephen Green - who is transferring from North Carolina - could end up at Arkansas.

"I talked to Stephen last night and he doesn't know what he is going to do for sure right now," Stoltz said.

Whether he gets the chance to play in 2005 or not, Stoltz will go through this year's spring practice.

"I think that is going to be great for me because there is so much to learn when you change systems and I want to give myself the best opportunity to play as soon as I can," Stoltz said.

He's excited about the chance to work with new Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring, who turned North Carolina State's defense into the number one unit in the country last season after they were near the bottom the previous year.

"My dad sent me some articles on him and he sounds like the coaches I had down here - the ones that get in your face and are all intense and just want to make sure you get the most out of yourself you can," Stoltz said. "That's just what I plan to do."


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