Catching On

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson talks about the commitment of Texas prep star Chip Gregory and how the Razorbacks are also in good shape with the Alexandria (La.) duo of Will Coppage and Chris Brown.

There's been an abundance of talk about who the University of Arkansas would like to sign at quarterback in 2006 and then have flinging footballs soon afterward.

Unless you've been under a rock lately, you know that young man is Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain, currently out in California for the EA Sports Elite 11 QB Camp.

One of those players could be Chip Gregory, an all-purpose player from Carrollton (Texas) American Heritage Academy, who committed to Arkansas late Monday night but could be headed for the defensive side of the ball.

Another prospect who thinks it might be cool to haul in passes from the nation's top quarterback if he did land with the Razorbacks is Alexandria (La.) standout Will Coppage (6-3, 180, 4.4) , who was up this past weekend for the UA Seniors Camp and was pleasantly surprised with what he found.

"I've been to LSU and Texas A&M, but Arkansas is nicer," Coppage said. "They really surprised me with all of this. I had no idea the things they had. To think they have a chance to get the nation's top quarterback just makes it more appealing."

Coppage is teammates with Alexandria tailback Chris Brown (5-11, 200, 4.4), who tabbed Arkansas as his favorite right after the camp and is someone that Coppage would love to remain teammates with in college.

"I love this campus, and it would be really nice to play with Chris in college," Coppage said. "I think we have done some good things together in high school and it certainly would be fun to try and make an impact together in college. He's my best friend, and I would like to have him as my roommate in college if it works out."

Coppage caught 26 passes for 636 yards last season for a 10-2 squad that lost in the second round of the state playoffs. Amazingly half of those catches were for touchdowns.

"We pass the ball about 5 or 6 times a game," Coppage said. "But when we do put it up good things usually happen."

Coppage, one of the top three receivers in camp along with the Texas duo of Bryan's Rod Harris and Plano's Gregory Rideaux, has offers from Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech so far.

He hopes he did enough in camp this weekend to get one from Arkansas -- in part because he is also a track star and would love to compete in the long jump in college.

Coppage has soared to a best of 24-3 in the long jump so far and has three state titles to his credit in the event heading into his senior season.

"I also high jump and run the 100," Coppage said. "I'm hoping to make it four state titles in the long jump this year."

Coppage said Texas A&M and Arkansas are his favorites right now, pending a Razorback offering and then a likely leapfrogging the Aggies.

"Right now I would have to say they are in the top two, but if they offer and especially of this is where Chris decides to go -- man, that would be all good," Coppage said.

There is certainly a mutual admiration society going for each other's abilities said Brown, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns last season .

"He's got speed, size and jumping ability," Brown said. "He can go get the ball. I love playing with him. It takes a lot off me to know if I am running around the corner, he is going be blocking for me and that's one less guy I don't have to worry about."

Coppage knows he helped Brown -- who has offers and a top three of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Alabama -- score some of his 28 touchdowns last season.

"Most of the time if the running back breaks, it's going to be up to the wide receiver on whether he is going to score or not," Coppage said. "I try to do the best I can out there blocking to help him get in the end zone."

It appears that Arkansas has the edge with Brown, who has rushed for over 4,000 yards and scored 560 touchdowns since hitting the high school field as a ninth grader.

"Arkansas has basically been in my top spot ever since they first contacted me," Brown said. "I'm still looking a little at Oklahoma and Alabama, but Arkansas is definitely above them. I think I'll take a few official visits, but there is so much to love about this place."

The pair -- who attended camp along with Alexandria defensive back Gary Carmouche -- have a state title on their minds.

"I've been coming to these camps and my skills have been getting better and my level of play has been coming up," Coppage said. "Chris is going to do his thing and I'm going to do mine and Carmouche's going to do his and hopefully we can bring our coach what he has always been looking for -- a state championship ring."

Dudley E. Dawson is a staff writer for Hawgs illustrated, a Stephens media group publication. His column appears each Tuesday. E-mail:

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