Reality Check

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson writes of how the only true picture of the Razorback football team's recruiting effort will be painted on Feb. 1.

Somewhere between the sunshine and the darkside is a place called reality.

Very few people live there, but it does exist.

I myself rarely visit, but have been seen in the vicinity of the place on occasion.

I was most certainly not there when my tongue let loose on radio sports call in show Sports Rap last Wednesday - blasting anybody and everybody in sight just because I felt like it.

Not that I take any of that stuff back, but, hey, I'm usually one of the calmest guys around, not some attack dog who bites anybody that comes near.

In my role as a recruiting writer, I probably won't visit this reality place again until around Feb. 1 when Arkansas' 2006 football signing class is all in place.

That's why it would be foolish for me to try and state definitely right now whether the Razorback football program is going to land a good, great or even average football recruiting class.

There are just too many uncertain variables to make an accurate assessment although I know a lot of people have already got it figured out for me.

Sure I could sit here and speculate that everything's going to be okay and that at least 4 of the Springdale 5 will end up signing with Arkansas when it is all said and done.

That Florida commits Damian Williams and Ben Cleveland of Springdale will flip to Arkansas and join current teammate Andrew Norman to begin catching passes from either Razorback starter Casey Dick or Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain.

That others like Van Stumon, Chris Wade, John West, Nehemiah Warrick and Devin Thomas - just to name a few - are all going to be on board and impact players next year.

Or I could head the other way and say that Andrew Norman becomes the only member of that Springdale group to stay home and play for the Razorbacks and new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who coached them in high school.

Or that none of those aforementioned guys will decide to call Arkansas home and the whole thing will go to Austin or South Bend or Gainesville or Stillwater and so on in a hand basket.

Truth is I just don't know - as evidenced by the fact that I was just one of the people who thought I was living in reality while spouting that Mustain was absolute lock to be a Razorback from August on.

Anyone who says they have a accurate handle on just how the entire UA class will turn out is blowing smoke right now in my humble opinion.

That's why everyone could do themselves a favor if they just enjoy the Christmas season and take a little time off and stop fretting so much on what the youngsters are going to do.

I wake up in a different world every morning and I am 42. I can barely remember what it's like to be 18 and can only imagine what it's like to have the world at your fingertips while trying to make the decision of your life.

It does seem to me that hiring Malzahn - whether he coaches all of his former high school players or not - is a smart move by Arkansas.

While there may be some legitimate questions about a high school coach - albeit a brilliant and ultra-successful one - making the leap to the SEC and being successful, he has impressed me for several years now and I think he'll do just great in his role.

Of course, the better players you have to work with the smarter you are going to look.

It was clear that Malzahn's offensive philosophy was sold to the recruits that visited this past weekend and Thomas, the wideout from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College wideout, was energized by that.

"That's just a great hire and has me alot more excited about Arkansas than I have ever been," Thomas said. "They threw the ball a lot at Springdale and I think he has a great offensive mind. They are going to pass it a lot more at Arkansas whether his quarterback (Mitch Mustain) comes there or not.

"I really like his philiosophy and what they are planning on doing," Thomas added. "It really has me excited."

As for Mustain's re-opening his recruitment, Thomas (a soft verbal to Michigan State) took that in stride.

"Basically they told me he is going to weigh his options, but they have a lot of confidence in the end that he will be on board," Thomas said. "I don't blame him for looking things over and weighing everything. That is exactly what I am doing.

Like I said, if Mitch comes that's great, if not I really think they have a vedry good young quarterback there anyway in Casey Dick," Thomas said. "With the new offensive coordinator and him there, things are looking great for Arkansas on that side of the ball."

We'll see about that when reality comes calling next fall.


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