The Big Oxner

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson chat with Monticello offensive lineman Seth Oxner (6-4, 285, pictured below), who got an offer from the Razorbacks over the weekend and is among a strong crop of 2007 linemen in the state. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website.

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If last season's football recruiting crop in the state of the Arkansas was all about the skill guys, this season sure appears to be about the big guys.

The University of Arkansas has already offered three in-state offensive linemen and could be adding more to that list before it's all said and done.

Both Monticello center Seth Oxner (6-4, 285) and Fort Smith Northside offensive lineman Paul Henry (6-7, 260) got offers on Saturday after the Razorbacks' Junior Day to join Rogers' Lee Ziemba (6-7, 295) - who is regarded as one of the nation's best - as offensive linemen in-state the Razorbacks have already targeted.

"I was surprised it happen then, but also very excited about it," Oxner said. "Arkansas is my only offer so far, but Oklahoma State, LSU and Texas A&M are others who have been recruiting me hard so far with letters and personal postcards and stuff like that."

Oxner, Henry and Ziemba were just three of around 40 prospects who made it up for Saturday's Junior Day along with Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns (6-2, 190), who was offered before his junior season and Paris tight end Grant Freeman (6-7, 250), who has already committed to the Razorbacks.

"It was a great time," notes Oxner, who came to a couple of Razorback games on unofficial visits this past season. "We got to tour the facilities, go over some academics, meet with the coaches and watch a highlight film. I actually got my offer after the highlight film. I was pumped about it."

Those three are just a trio of a strong group of 2007 offensive lineman in state that also includes Jonesboro tight end/offensive lineman Grant Cook (6-5, 260), Fayetteville's Johnny Borkins (6-4, 264,) Shiloh Christian's Nolan Hankins (6-7, 320) and Stuttgart's Trey Helms (6-4, 240), just to name a few.

"I think this is a really good group of players in Arkansas this season," Oxner said. "I feel very fortunate and happy that Arkansas decided to go ahead and offer me this early."

While Oxner admits to being a big Razorback fan, he will assess his situation before possibly joining Freeman and Butler County (Kan.) Community College running back Brandon Barnett among the 2007 Razorback commitments.

He plans to major in engineering and Arkansas is noted for its enigneering department.

"I really like Arkansas and I am very excited about how they might be next year and after that because they had such a great recruiting year with the 2006 class," Oxner said. "I got a chance to go against (current Razorback running back) Darren McFadden in high school so I know how great he is and they've got another great back and kicker returned in Felix Jones. I could certainly see myself blocking for those guys."

Monticello's basketball team plays Green County Tech Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Class AAA state tournament at Riverview High School in Searcy.

Oxner joins with 6-6, 280-pound Arkansas State football signee Rudy Harrell to form an imposing front line while guard Bryan Scherrer is also a key to the team.

"I am not as good as the other guys," Oxner said. "Coach just has me in there for rebounding and setting screens."

Oxner plans to attend at least one and maybe both of Arkansas' football camps this summer as well as ones at Mississippi State and LSU and maybe a few others.

"Right now I am going to come to the first Arkansas camp, but I will probably end up coming to both of them," Oxner said. "I think it is going to be fun summer."

o o o

Henry is another imposing figure who now has the offer from Arkansas to go along with interest from Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

"I have got really good feelings about Arkansas," Henry said earlier this month. "(UA offensive coordinator) Coach (Gus) Malzahn is recruiting me and I am really interested in them."

Northside head coach Darrell Henry has enjoyed watching Henry's development the past two seasons.

"He's got real good feet and really good hands," Henry said, "He has made as much improvement over the past year as anyone on our football team and it's been a joy to watch where he has come from to where he is now. We played him at tackle and he did an excellent job for us this year. Coaches love that size and speed."

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