Arkansas Born

In his weekly recruiting column for Hagws Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson talks to Texas High sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett (6-6, 230), who spent his weekend in Fayetteville playing basketball and watching the Razorbacks' football scrimmage.

Perhaps the best sophomore quarterback in Texas and the best sophomore quarterback in Arkansas met up Sunday morning in Springdale.

It happened on the basketball court at All-Star Sports of all places.

Texas High's Ryan Mallett (6-6, 230, 4.9) and Fort Smith Northside's Kodi Burns came face-to-face Sunday when Mallett's Arkansas Wings downed Burns' Arkansas Hawks 62-52 in the semifinals of the 16-and-under division of the Real Deal on the Hill.

In fact there was a signature moment when Burns was driving in for a layup and Mallett hammered him with perhaps the best hit any one got in on the Grizzlies' standout all year.

"I had no idea who that was," Burns said after being told of Mallett's presence. "That's cool."

Mallett, who was born in Arkansas and actually still lives in Texarkana, Arkansas but plays at Texas High because of the higher competition level, took time Saturday to go over and see the Razorbacks' scrimmage.

"It was exciting to see all those fans there," Mallett said. "I think if the lineman weren't so banged up we could have seen a full four-quarter scrimmage. I got over there a little late because we had a game, but it was nice. I've made no secret of the fact I grew up a Razorback fan."

Mallett had the rough chore of guarding Springdale 6-8, 200-pound standout Michael Sanchez- who is transferring to Har-Ber High next season and had 24 points and 21 rebounds in an earlier Real Deal game.

"He's a load to handle," said Mallett, who passed for 2,307 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season.

Mallett lived in Northwest Arkansas before making the move down to the Arkansas-Texas border before he started the sixth grade.

"They are a lot more athletic down there in Texas," Mallett said. "The Longhorn thing doesn't bother me in Northeast Texas, but adjusting to the athleticism at first did. It was like going from slow motion to as fast as you can get. I had to kick it up pretty quick."

Mallett - who was on hand for Arkansas' game with Georgia this past season - took over as the starting quarterback for Texas High late in his freshman season due to an injury.

"After the first snap, it was just like you were playing JV or ninth grade football," Mallett said. "It was just the same."

Texas High got to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs this season before losing to Ennis in Texas Stadium.

"We could've, should've won that game, but we made some mistakes in the first half and fell behind and then we only had the ball twice in the second half and didn't convert on either one of them," Mallett said. "We played at Texas Stadium and it was fun, but I don't think we are going to go back to play there next year because of all the hassle between games. It was so rushed."

There have been some reports that Mallett might move back to this area, but he put those to rest.

"I've heard that and don't know where that got started," Mallett said. "But it's not true."

In addition to playing AAU basketball this summer, Mallett will take go to football camps at Arkansas (June 5) , Michigan (June 19) and he will also be playing an a big 7-on-7 tournament at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia on June 11th.

"I understand that there will be teams from five different states there," Mallett said. "We're going to go in there and see if we can't improve on some things."

Michigan has already sent an assistant coach down to watch him throw and had some news.

"He told me after this upcoming signing day that they are going to offer me," Mallett said. "Texas has also told me they are going to offer me. Stephen F. Austin, a Division II school as well. I hope and expect Arkansas is going to do the same."

Michigan has already sold him on one idea.

"They have been down to see me throw and told me that I would get to redshirt one year and then play behind Chad Hennie," Mallett said. "They said he might even go pro before he finishes college."

While he is a Razorback fan through and through, Mallett said he will have to assess the situation as far as signing with Arkansas.

"I love the Hogs, but I don't know if I can go there," Mallett said. "It would be nice to do so, but it depends on what the situation is then and I have to keep all my options open. I'll have to look at who they sign in this next class, whose already there and things like that."

Until then, Mallett is just hoping to enjoy his summer on and off the court.

"I'm not as good as I would like to be at basketball, but it helps me with my footwork and just being able to move around in the pocket," Mallett said. "It will also keep me in shape. Plus the coaches are also and my teammates are very good and we have great chemistry."

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