Junior Day

In his weekly column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson talks about how the Razorbacks are already off and running on the 2006 football recruiting class.<br><br> This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is an offer on the their website. Click on a banner for details.<br><br>





On the same day that the University of Arkansas was wrapping up its 2005 football recruiting class, it was already pushing forward to the 2006 one.

Several of the top prospects in that class made calls into the Razorback program as they are allowed to do on the national signing date, a tradition that started up last season according to Razorback recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn.

"We had several of the top out-of-state guys call in and many of the in-state ones," Vaughn noted. "It is a perfect opportunity to start building those relationships, which is as big a key as any in the recruiting process."

That will continue this weekend when Arkansas has a Junior Day in conjunction with the Razorback's 3:05 p.m. basketball game with Tennessee at Bud Walton Arena.

"One of the best things we can do is get these kids on campus and let them see the facilities and meet the coaches and just see what we are all about," Vaughn said. "While there are some who have been here, there are a lot who haven't and you like to get that excitement going with them."

The Razorbacks will also have another Junior Day either on April 9 or April 16, when the Red-White game is scheduled along with the Razorfest Alumni 7-on-7 game and many other festivities.

"The one thing about it is that there will be so much going on that you would not get to visit with the kids as much on the Red-White Day as you would the week before on the ninth," Vaughn said.

Arkansas currently has 2,500 or so names in its junior database, a number that will begin to be whittled down when the Razorbacks coaches get out in the spring for visits.

"You get a chance to get out, see the real size on the kids, see the real speed and just gather as much information as you can about the prospects", Vaughn said. "Throughout the process you will learn to love some, find out that some arent what you are looking for and found out which ones might not be interested in you as well."

By the end of that evaluation process, Arkansas will have narrowed its focus to around 450 players or so.

"Each coach will come back with about 50 names to work with that they believe are the best fit for us for whatever reason," Vaughn said. "So that's about 450 names we enter the summer with on our list."

Certainly there are additions, subtractions and surprises during the summer, especially for kids who the Razorbacks get to see during their summer camps.

This year's camps are slated for June 5-7 (high school), June 9-11 (junior high) and the UA Seniors Camp on July 22-23.

"There's nothing better than being able to see these kids for an extended time going through the camps on your campus," Vaughn said. "(UA 2005 offensive line signee) Joey Crossland is a prime example of that. He came to camp and we just fell in love with him and offered him a scholarship. Same thing for (fellow 2005 signee) Rod Coleman, who came and showed us that blazing speed and athletic ability and got a scholarship offer from camp as well."

Arkansas then enters the season with about 200 names on his lists and hopes - just as it did last season - of plenty of commitments already confirmed.

"We're off and running once again," Vaughn said. "Recruiting never ends."

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Recruiting tidbits:

...Springdale juniors Mitch Mustain and Damiam Williams, who both have offers from Arkansas, will be on hand for Texas Junior Day this weekend.

Red Bulldog offensive lineman Bartley Webb has already been to Texas and now has offers from the Longhorns and Razorbacks.






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