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For college coaches and the few sports writers in this state that follow football recruiting, Saturday's FCA Combine at War Memorial Stadium is pretty much a one-stop buffet when it comes to evaluating the state's top senior-to-be grid prospects.
Just over 200 of the state's top athletes will get to War Memorial at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning for the ninth annual invitational-only event sponsored by Martin Bowen Hefley and FCA.
"We're happy to put it on, the kids are honored to be invited and I k now that the college coaches absolutely love having it," notes B.J. Maack, the director of the FCA Combine. "We're lucky we have a great group of volunteers who have been at this for awhile so it usually comes together very well and runs pretty smoothly, which is important for all involved."
University of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt and members of his staff - currently in a six-week period where they can evaluate prospects on four of those - will be joined at the event by coaches from the rest of the state's football-playing colleges.
"I know Arkansas' staff loves it because they get to see the players all in one place at the same time while the staffs who don't have as big as budget get a big help by being able to come to just one place and see lots of kids," Maack said.
At one point back when there was open registration, there were 580 kids on hand for the FCA Combine. That was far too many for everyone to be properly evaluated so it became an invitation only event.
"In all honesty, the goal of the combine has to be to invite kids who have a legitimate chance to play college football and have them be seen by the college coaches," Maack said. "If they are not a legitimate college prospect, then you just doing the kids and the coaches a disservice by bringing them here."
While baseball and AAU basketball tournaments and some other conflicts will keep some of the 230 players invited from attending, there should be a wealth of talent on hand again this season.
Some of the names that jump out at me include UA commit and Little Rock Catholic tight end-defensive end Jake Bequette (6-5, 245), Central Arkansas Christian tight end David Williams (6-4, 250) and Osceola wideout/cornerback Cameron Baker - all three who have offers from Arkansas.
There's also Kansas State cornerback commit A.J. Whitmore of Nashville, Dardanelle cornerback C.J. Chaten, the Arkadelphia duo of defensive lineman Gary McClellan (6-5, 300) and athlete Rontrell Bailey, Morrilton athlete Josh Trezvant, Pulaski Robinson linebacker Chris Fleming and Fayetteville tight end Ben Ball and offensive lineman Johnny Borkins.
Stuttgart quarterback/safety Joseph Lockwood, the North Little Rock tandem of wideout Brett Moncrief and quarterback/safety Chea Peterman, Harrison offensive lineman Wade Greyson, running back/cornerback Nick Burnett and Wynne's Terrance Garrett and Terrance Boykin are some other s that will draw plenty of attention from coaches.
Other notable prospects include running backs Terrance Bobo of Atkins, Alton Cressell of Ashdown and LaNorris Dukes of Little Rock Catholic, offensive linemen Lee Conic of Little Rock Catholic and Cory Jordan of Elkins, defen sive linemen Martezo Rodgers of El Dorado and D.J. Johnson of LR Catholic, and the Fort Smith Northside trio of safety Matt Jones, offensive lineman Alex Birton and kicker Josh Davis.
Jake Young of Mountain Home is another kicker who got an invite and is expected to attend.
Kansas State assistant coach Tim Horton, the former Arkansas standout, is also planning to attend.
"One year I was walking around and saw a Tennessee assistant there," Maack said. "I thought ‘what is he doing here?' I can't really keep coaches from the other SEC schools out, but this is about the Arkansas players and the coaches in Arkansas for the most part and allowing them a chance to be seen."
o o o The weekend will kick off with the annual Pigskin Pigout, which is sponsored by the Bank of Ozarks and will be held Friday night at 6 p.m. and Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock.
UA head coach Houston Nutt and new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be on hand to review spring practice and talk about the upcoming 2006 season.
There will also an auction including items donated from Arkansas' Matt Jones, USC's Reggie Bush and Matt Linehart , Texas' Vince Young, NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning and Matt Hasselback, former NFL great John Elway and NFL running backs Jerome Bettis and Shaun Alexander and many others.