Looking Ahead

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson writes about what Arkansas has accomplished in recruiting so far and what the Razorbacks still need to take care of before the 2006 class is complete.

Despite dire predictions of the recruiting sky falling once prized recruit Mitch Mustain decided to explore his options, the University of Arkansas football program has somehow managed to add five commitments to its 2006 class in the last couple of weeks to run its total to 11.

The Razorbacks have certainly loaded up on the defensive side with linebackers Van Stumon (6-3, 230) and Wendell Davis (6-1, 205), junior college safety John West (6-2, 190, 4.4), defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard (6-3, 260) and Jerell Norton (6-0, 180), who could wind up at either cornerback or wideout, all pledging to be Razorbacks.

If you figure that offensive lineman Ray Dominquez (6-4, 260) of Bainbridge, Ga,; , wideout Dee Williams (6-3, 201) of Ashdown and safety Adrian Davis (6-4, 198) of Rosenburg, Texas are almost locks to join the party, then that's 14 spots.

You would like to think that NEO defensive end Chris Wade (6-6, 255) could end up being a 15th guy, but with visits to Kansas State - where four of his teammates have already signed - and Baylor, one sure couldn't put him down as a given.

"Arkansas is still way up there as my number one," Wade said. "I had a great time on my visit, everything was cool and they were great to me and my family. I told Arkansas' coaches to not worry. They have been there since the start with me and it's all about them with me."

So that leaves you some 7 to 10 spots left that will make or break the value of this class - certainly several of those spots needing to be filled by offensive prospects.

"When we come out of the dead period (which ends Jan. 1), we're going to come out prepared knowing exactly what work there is left to be done and how to get it done," Arkansas recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn said right before Christmas.

So what about the rest of the class?

Rest assured that Mustain (6-3, 210), Springdale's quarterback who is racking in the national player of the year awards, has a spot reserved for him as he decides if Arkansas is the place for him instead of Alabama, Notre Dame or Tennessee.

As do Springdale wideout Damian Williams (6-1, 180) and teammate and tight end Ben Cleveland (6-4, 230) - if one or both should decide Florida is not for them - would be welcomed aboard with open arms to join Springdale wideout and Razorback commit Andrew Norman.

It would seem that if Mustain was to head elsewhere in the end, Arkansas would need to sign a quarterback with names like Jeff Panfil (6-6, 185) of Fort Worth (Texas) North Crowley, and Carson Williams (6-4, 220) of Cullman, Ala., some of the options.

"I am certainly interested in them," Panfil said. "They haven't talked to me yet, but have talked to my coach and my parents and are going to be talking to me after this dead period (Dec. 19-Jan. 1) is over with. I have always had some interest in them. I really liked (former Arkansas quarterback) Matt   Jones when he was there and how they used him."

As far as wideouts, Memphis Raleigh-Egypt star Duke Calhoun (6-4, 190, 4.4), Tallahassee (Fla.) North Christian's Carlton Salters (6-1, 185, 4.5) and Stephaun Raines (6-0, 172, 4.4) of Dalton, Ga., are a few of those still out there with interest in Arkansas and vice-versa.

"I think i have great speed and great hands and a good ability to make plays," Calhoun said. "Arkansas was telling me they think I can come in and start helping them make some right away."

If Cleveland sticks with Florida or goes elsewhere, a tight end like Joseph Inman (6-5, 248, 4.8) of Stilwell, Okla. could come into play.

Speaking of Springdale standouts, running back Matt Clinkscales looks like a Peyton Hillis in waiting to me so maybe he'll get an offer here before it is all said and done.

I also personally still hope that Batesville's Drew Hilton (6-4, 295) and Blytheville's Kit Coleman (6-3, 285) are added to the list of offensive line offers before it is all said and join Pocahontas ' Jim Hart and Putnam North's Myron McKinney.

There's also a guy like Dallas Carter offensive lineman Demarcus Love (6-5, 260), who is set to visit here on Jan. 20-22.

Scott Kreihbel of Pratt (Kan.), another offensive line candidate, said last week that he was no longer being recruited by Arkansas because of a torn ACL and meniscus.

One would guess Arkansas would also like to add another defensive end - maybe somebody like Braylon Broughton (6-6, 240) or DeAntwain Whitehead (6-6, 245) - and at least one other linebacker like Donnell Sanders (6-2, 206) of College Park, Ga.

Sanders is enamored with UA defensive coach Tracy Rocker.

"I can play at Arkansas early and I think I can fit in there with the chemistry. Coach Rocker is a great guy and I read stuff about him from when he played and he was really good."

One new name that has popped onto the scene is Cisco (Texas) Junior College safety Jonathon Batson (6-2, 190, 4.4), who was just named the national junior college player of the year.

Batson, who I had the opportunity to see play against NEO this season, had 8 interceptions this season (on which he had 183 yards in returns) to go along 74 tackles.

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