Recruiting Bonanza

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson writes about plans to see some 12-15 legitimate University of Arkansas football prospects in three games in three states in two days.

Full tank of gas for the Dodge Durango: $60

Money for meals and concessions: $30

More money for continuous refill of Diet Dr. Pepper habit: $20-plus

Opportunity to see three games in two days in three states with around 12 to 15 legitimate University of Arkansas football recruiting targets and have it all paid for by work: PRICELESS

Outside of a late-game Dallas Cowboys rally or a St. Louis Cardinals postseason game, there is really very little on the sport scene that gets me overly excited these days.

But this Friday night and Saturday will be one of those occasions as I take in three games in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas that include some players who could certainly enhance the success of next season's Razorback football team and beyond.

For what I do, it's like a virtual buffet of prospects - a top-notch quarterback here, speedy wideouts over there, big linemen down the way and a bevy of juco defenders who can pack a punch also served up.

It will begin with the showdown of the best two team's in Arkansas - No. 1 Springdale visiting No. 2 Fayetteville.

Springdale (4-0, 1-0) is loaded with Razorback commits in quarterback Mitch Mustain (6-3, 200) and wideout Andrew Norman (6-2, 180), Florida commits in wideout Damian Williams (6-1, 180) and tight end/linebacker Ben Cleveland (6-4, 230), Notre Dame offensive line commit Bartley Webb (6-7, 290) as well as several other uncommitted top-notch prospects including running back Matt Clinkscales (6-2, 206).

Fayetteville (4-0, 1-0) has quite a few outstanding players ot its own, topped by the versatile Brent Phillips (6-1, 180), who rushed for 171 yards last week and could play in the backfield, at wideout or in the secondary in college and certainly has Arkansas' attention.

One prospect for the future to watch is Gionni "Little G" Harris (5-6, 135), who may be tiny but is a game-breaking playmaker as evidenced right away this season by nearly 200 yards receiving and three touchdowns in a season-opening win over Little Rock Catholic.

UA head coach Houston Nutt - whose staff will hit the road recruiting Thursday night after practice - will take in this game, one where he gets a chance to see his two favorite high school quarterbacks play - the heralded Mustain as well as his son Houston Nutt III.

Then it's up early Saturday and off for the trip to Miami, Okla., to see Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College host Cisco in a 2 p.m. contest.

NEO, who is coming off a 70-0 whipping of Ranger Junior College last Saturday, has at least two defensive prospects that Arkansas would love to land.

There's sophomore defensive end Chris Wade (6-6, 255, 4.65), a former Broken Arrow, Okla., prep star who was placed there by Missouri but who now has Arkansas as his leader in the recruiting process.

The Razorbacks would also love to get redshirt linebacker Chris Patterson (6-3, 225), currently committed to Oklahoma, to at least consider taking a look toward Fayetteville before resigning with the Sooners.

From Miami, it's just an hour drive to Coffeyville, Kan., where the final game will boast a host of prospects as the Red Ravens (5-0) host winless Fort Scott (Kan.) CC.

Coffeyville (5-0) - ranked No. 3 nationally in the juco ranks - has put up as many as 83 points against Highland on the board - this season with former Fayetteville High and UA signee Woody Wilson (6-1, 180) guiding the attack at quarterback.

He's got a great receiver to thrown the ball to in former Michigan prep star Devin "Showtime" Thomas (6-2, 215, 4.4), who has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas State, Kansas, Ole Miss and UAB and has caught 18 passes for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns this season.

Thomas had 3 catches for 64 yards and returned three kickoffs for 86 yards and Wilson was 13-of-24 passing for 127 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 37 yards in a 46-7 rout of Independence (Kan.) CC.

Thomas will be on the same field as another speedy wideout Arkansas is involved with in former Florida prep star Cedric Houston (6-1, 195, 4.3), who has been a bright spot for a Fort Scott offense that has struggled this season.

The Fort Scott defense is littered with plays being recruited by the Razorbacks such as defensive end Robert Jackson (6-3, 265, 4.7) of West Haven, Conn; safety Chris Pollard (6-2, 205) of Camden, N.J., and cornerback Sedale Truitt (6-4, 200, 4.45) of Newark, DE.

No doubt Arkansas would love to add a few of those aforementioned defenders to what they have on campus as well as defensive lineman Freddie Barnett (6-2, 300), who is committed to Arkansas and due in at mid-term.

There's also safety John West (6-2, 190, 4.4), a safety from North Dakota State College of Science, on the radar - who like Wade and several of the others will visit in December.

Who knows what the rest of this season will hold? All I know is that Friday night and Saturday it will be looking forward, not behind.

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