When he was just in the eighth grade, Tim Dial soared 14 feet while pole vaulting.
Obviously he could have had a great future in the sport - one in which his dad Joe certainly achieved fame while going as high as 19-6 and being the American record holder from 1985-1994.
But the younger Dial decided he wanted to concentrate on another sport with a bit more contact.
"Pole vaulting is something I did up until my freshman year in high school and I did think about pursuing it longer," Dial said, "but I enjoyed football more and thought if I was going to be as good as I wanted to be, I should just concentrate on football alone. I like the contact and hitting folks."
No doubt that decision is paying off as Dial (6-3, 210, 4.4), a Jenks (Okla.) outside linebacker/safety who committed to the Razorbacks last Monday.
Dial - whose dad is now in his 12th season as the track coach at Oral Roberts University - committed to Arkansas soon after the Razorbacks offered even as coaches from Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State, Tulsa and Colorado State were showing interest and planning to see him during the next month.
"I came over for Arkansas' Junior Day (April 15) and just loved the facilities, the school, the coaches and everything involved," Dial said. "I got an offer from them a few days later and had it about four or five days before committing. I knew it was where I wanted to go from the time I got the offer, but I just wanted to sit down with my family, go over everything and be sure."
Dial, who had been to Arkansas and seen the indoor track but not the football facilities, is solid with that commitment and is also solid in the classroom with a 3.2 grade point average and a qualifying score on the ACT already in the book.
"There are a lot of other schools that were showing interest in me, but the main thing that hit me was if all of these other schools did offer, Arkansas would still be my choice so there was no reason to not go ahead and commit," Dial said. "I'm extremely happy about how it has worked out and now I can just concentrate on getting better this spring and summer and having a great senior season."
Dial was being recruited by new Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, a coach he impressed on film last year when Malzahn's Springdale team was getting ready to play Jenks.
Although Springdale dominated Jenks 44-0 in that matchup and Dial broke his hand during the game, Malzahn saw plenty he liked on film of a player who had 11 tackles in a 48-44 win the week before over archrival Union.
"He told me that getting ready to go against me kept him up at night that week because he could see some things he loved in my play on the field," Dial said. "I know he he also watched the Jenks-Union game and just told me he is very impressed with what I bring to the field."
Dial saw plenty in some future teammates - UA signees Mitch Mustain, Damian Williams, Andrew Norman and Ben Cleveland of Springdale - that he liked as well.
"They are all high Division I players with a lot of talent, a lot of talent," Dial said. "I can tell you I am sure glad they are going to be on my team in college instead of having to play against them."
Dial, who has a 31-inch vertical jump, lined up at outside linebacker last season for Jenks' during a 9-2 campaign, but will be at free safety during the 2006 season.
"That's what's best for us as a team this season and I certainly have enough speed to play there or at linebacker," Dial said. "We feel like we are going to have another very good team, even thought we lost some D-1 players off our our team. We've got a lot of guys coming back, a lot of guys ready to step up and a great coaching staff."
Dial has - of course - met UA defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and looks forward to playing for him.
"He says he is going to have me playing at outside linebacker and he likes to have guys there with my height and my speed," Dial said. "He's very intense and I think he will get the best out of me and our defense."
Dial will make at least one of the UA camps this summer and maybe both.
"I am going to be working on my footwork, my hip flex ability and just use different cutting drills to help myself develop," Dial said. "I've got good speed and size, but I want to get faster and bigger and just be the best I can be."
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