Special Guests

A big weekend in Fayetteville has the University of Arkansas hosting a plethora of football and basketball recruits - some on official visits, others coming unofficially on their own dime.

There is certainly a ton of things going on in Northwest Arkansas this weekend - a perfect time to invite some special guests to the area.

That's just what UA head football coach Houston Nutt and Razorback basketball coach Stan Heath and their staffs have taken it upon themselves this weekend.

Four players will be on official visits - two in each sport - and over 30 other unofficial visitors will be in Fayetteville for a weekend that includes the start of UA basketball practice, a pep rally, the Chili Pepper Cross County Festival, the Arkansas-Auburn football game and thousands just milling around for the annual craft fairs.

"You want to get guys up here to see what the University of Arkansas has to offer and there is certainly a lot going to be showcased this weekend," Razorback football recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn said earlier this week. "Hopefully they will see us win and leave with a great impression of everything we have to offer up here."

The Arkansas football program is hosting a pair of official visitors in the Alexandria (La.) High duo of running back Chris Brown (5-10, 190, 4.4) and wideout Will Coppage (6-3, 180, 4.4), who is also a track star and has an offer from that Razorback sport already and could get one from football as well.

The UA basketball program will be doing its best this weekend to add Memphis Mitchell star Thaddeus Young (6-8, 200) to its already glittering commit list that includes UA-Fort Smith star Sonny Weems (6-6, 200), Genesis One forward Michael Washington (6-10, 230) and Hargrave Military Academy guard Stefan Welsh (6-3, 180).

Springdale Har-Ber's Michael Sanchez (6-9, 210) and Junction City's James Anderson (6-5, 190) - the state's top two junior prospects who both already have Razorback offers - are also slated to be on hand this weekend.

No doubt they'll join Washington and Weems - who are both expected to be here on unofficial visits - as well as official visitor Welsh in doing their best to impress Young, who has slated Oct. 24 as a date to announce his decision.

Young has already been on unofficial visits to Arkansas and Memphis and officials to Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Kentucky and could cap off a top 5 class for the Razorbacks.

"I can say I am very happy and I can say that there is a chance I could be a whole lot happier, too," Heath said. "We'll find out. The staff is working extremely hard in that area and I give the players a lot of credit, too. They sell your program and that's an important thing. They are not sugarcoating things, they are just telling how they feel.

"We are very pleased with what we are doing now and we will see what happens over the next few days to a week," Heath said.

Part of that recruiting mix will be former Mississippi State point guard Gary Ervin, who is redshirting at Arkansas this season, but went to work on Young when he was in Arkansas for an unofficial visit in September.

"He's one of our best recruiters," Heath said. "He goes to work on them."

Brown and Coppage will head to Fayetteville right after their game against Leesville on Friday night and be on the sideline with guys like UA offensive line commit Myron McKinney (6-3, 305) of Putnam North.

It comes just a week after taking in the Razorbacks' 44-15 win over Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock as unofficial visitors.

"This was the first time I had been to Little Rock and it was a great experience," Brown said. "It was especially nice that they came out and beat a Louisiana team. Now I'm looking forward to getting back to Fayetteville and seeing a game up there."

Brown has already visited Oklahoma, who is running neck-and-neck he says with Arkansas and Mississippi State while Alabama has dropped on his list.

"I would say that Arkansas is still at the top," Brown said. "They are probably tied with Oklahoma and Mississippi State. Alabama isn't really up there with the others anymore."

Alexandria is 4-1 and coming off a 44-7 win over Tioga in which Brown rushed 13 times for 113 yards and Coppage had three catches for 70 yards and also took an interception back to the house.

"We've got the new quarterback (Adam Roy) from Bel Chase and he is real good at throwing the ball," Coppage said. "They are ganging up trying to stop Chris and that has allowed us to make plays. They are going to have to pick one or the other."

Coppage - one of the nation's top prep long jumpers - has track offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and LSU.

He will not only meet with the UA football coaches this weekend, but legendary Razorback track coach John McDonnell.

"He is going to be there to talk to me this weekend," Coppage said. "That's going to be a big factor on how I make my decision, too. I am looking at mostly track, but want to play football, too."

To do both, Coppage would have to be on football scholarship. If he takes just the track scholarship he could not play football his first two seasons per NCAA rules.

"I really love Arkansas," Coppage said. "It surprised me after I went to Texas A&M and then came up to Fayetteville. I really liked the campus and the facilities. It was the best I have seen."'

Brown has rushed for 803 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and is just 15 yards away from topping the 5,000-yard career mark.

"I am having a good year and the team is playing well," Brown said. "We are fixing all of our mistakes and planning on making a run for the state championship."

Coppage has accounted for 8 touchdowns of his own, hauling in 10 catches for 208 yards and 7 touchdowns and taking a 49-yard interception return back for another score.

"I am just trying to help and get my coach a ring because he has been coaching for so long for this team and doesn't have one," Coppage said. "Chris and I are trying to get him one of those."


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