Making an Impact

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson writes about how Jenks star Tim Dial commits to Arkansas, how over 200 prospects have come to the UA's campus this spring and how the Razorback coaches are now out on the road trying to make the most of an evaluation period. 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 websit

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After 15 practices to evaluate what they already have on campus, the University of Arkansas football coaching staff is now on the road seeing what it can come up with for the future.

It's the annual spring evaluation time - a period that began last week - in which the college coaches can be out on the road looking at prospects for 20 days during a six-week block that runs through the end of May.

The Razorbacks already have five committments in the 2007 class with Jenks (Okla.) athlete Tim Dial (6-3, 210) verbaling to Arkansas late Monday night.

"You can be out any four of those six weeks and it is a tremendously important time when it comes to recruiting," notes Chris Vaughn, the Razorbacks' director of on-campus recruiting. "It is a time you identify the players that you can best help the program, ones that you already know about and some that you turn over rocks and find."

The coaches are unable to have one-on-one contact with the recruits per NCAA rules during this time, but can watch them practice, lift weights, condition and so on.

"We are allowed one phone call to them in May," Vaughn said. "Other than that, it's watching and seeing what can of work ethic they have, just how big or fast they are, how they work with their teammates and coaches and things like that. "

With three staff changes since the last recruiting push, there are some new recruiting territories.

New Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be recruiting parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri while Alex Wood has taken over Houston and secondary coach Louis Campbell is now working Louisiana.

In addition, Bobby Allen now has a wider path in Central Texas, James Shibest has expanded more into the Fort Worth and Arlington areas in addition to being the lead junior college guy.

"We've also got Mike Markuson taking care of the entire state of Alabama and Tracy Rocker handling all of Georgia, where they both have done great jobs," Vaughn said. "We think we've got great guys in great areas and it will really pay off for us."

As it appears will also having Vaughn and Clifton Ealy - two former coaches on the field - who are now working in positions that will help relationships both with recruits and the high school coaches, which is one of Ealy's main focuses.

Evidence of that is the fact that a whopping 173 prospects were on campus April 15 for the final of two UA Junior Days, an event that coincided with the Red-White scrimmage, Razorfest, Lettermen's Weekend, a coaches clinic, the Real Deal on the Hill AAU basketball tournament, a weekend UA baseball series with Kentucky.

"That was just an unbelievable day and weekend in terms of getting 173 athletes on our campus, many who had never been here before and letting them a chance to see our great facilities like the stadium, the weight room and our academic center," Vaughn said. "I think that was a big hit with both the players and the parents and the coaches that came up."

The Razorbacks, who had an in-state Junior Day back on Feb. 25 that brought over 60 players to campus, also had a special Saturday for current freshman and sophomores that drew 45 players.

Considering that you can't talk to prospects that young unless they are on your campus, that's headstarts of building relationships with 45 possible stars of the future.

"I look back and think about how (former Arkansas star and current NFL offensive lineman) Shawn Andrews came up here to visit when he was in the 10th grade," Vaughn said. "That gave him a chance to get to know our coaches and helped us beat back all of the other teams that were trying to sign him. That's such a big plus and we hope there were a few more like him on campus when we brought this guys up."

The odds of Arkansas ever filling up its entire 25 scholarships in one year with players strictly from in-state are likely fairly long.

But with 21 players in this state already reporting offers from Division 1 schools, it's clear that this is a special year for talent in Arkansas.

"We love that, just love that," Vaughn said. "Certainly we are going to have to battle some schools, but you are glad those numbers are there in Arkansas this year. You like to be playing on your home turf so to speak for talented kids instead of having to go into Alabama, Florida and Texas and so on and battle on their home field. We view it as a big plus for us."

Arkansas is known to have already offered at least 10 players in Arkansas including Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba (6-7, 285), Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns (6-2, 190) and offensive lineman Paul Henry (6-7, 250), Pulaski Academy running back Broderick Green (6-3, 235), offensive lineman Seth Oxner of Monticello (6-5, 280), tight end-defensive end Jake Bequette (6-4, 245) and Paris tight end Grant Freeman (6-7, 250).

Oxner, Bequette and Freeman have already committed to Arkansas along with former Texarkana and current Butler County Community College tailback Brandon Barnett while Dial (6-3, 210) made it five by committing on Monday night.

Other in-state players with UA offers include Central Arkansas Christian tight end David Williams (6-3, 250), Osceola athlete Cameron Baker (5-11, 160) and Jonesboro offensive lineman Grant Cook (6-6, 260).

A couple of others who appear on the verge of getting Arkansas offers are Shiloh Christian wideout Crosby Tuck (6-1, 180) and Morrilton athlete Josh Trezvant (5-11, 180) and goodness knows many want the Razorbacks to offer Springdale kicker Alex Tejeda (5-10, 170).

"We always want to start in-state and work our way out," Vaughn said. "It's a great, great year to do that."

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