Paying Dividends

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson sees how Arkansas' win over Auburn played with Texas prep safety James Thomas (6-0, 182, 4.5). 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. Click on a banner for details.

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The University of Arkansas football team's destruction of homestanding and No. 2 Auburn Saturday was so complete that recruits didn't even have to see it live to be impressed.

Take the example of La Marque (Texas) High free safety James Thomas (6-0, 182, 4.55), who didn't get to watch the game on CBS but caught all the ESPN coverage later that night and heard all the college football analysts lavish praise on the Razorbacks' program.

"That was very impressive," Thomas said. They showed me they can ball with anybody in the country. Especially when you go to somehow else's house and just dominate."

In the lingo of the younger set, that's about as high a compliment as Thomas can give the now No. 17-ranked and SEC Western Division leading Razorbacks (4-1, 3-0).

"That win certainly is making me think about them a lot more," Thomas said. "They lost that first game (USC) - just like we did ours - but it shows what kind of program you have when you can come back, get better and get on a roll."

Landing a guy like Thomas, who had 90 tackles and a whopping 11 interceptions as a junior, would be great a coup for the Razorbacks.

UA assistant Alex Wood is heading up the recruiting of Thomas, an excellent athlete who has a 34-inch vertical leap, and was in La Marque (40 miles from Houston) during Arkansas' recent open date to see him.

"He's a cool guy that used to coach in the NFL," Thomas said. "I like him."

They are going up against fellow upstart Missouri - who is ranked a spot behind Arkansas in this week's Associated Press poll - Kansas State, Arizona and Michigan.

The Wolverines - of whom who he is a big fan - are the only one of his top five not to offer so far.

"There's a lot more schools that have offered me than those five, but those are the ones that I am considering right now," Thomas said. "I'll just make my visits and see where the best place for me."

Thomas has taken unofficial visits for camps and games the past two seasons to several campuses such as Missouri, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Florida, LSU and Baylor.

He is looking forward to getting up to Arkansas for the first time and says while he may make it to a game unofficially, he will definitely for an official once the season is done.

"That's going to be one of the ones I take," Thomas said.

Thomas has a 3.2 grade point average and has already posted a 23 on his ACT.

"Arkansas seems like a really nice school with good people and good academics, which is very important to me when it comes to making a decision," Thomas said. "I am looking forward to making it up there, but I haven't set up any of my visits yet."

He has led his team to a 4-1 mark this season although he admits that he is not seeing as much action come his way as last season and has one pick.

"That's what happens when you get 11 interceptions," said Thomas, who has over 40 tackles but no picks this season. "Nobody wants to throw my way, but I just try to take care of my own responsibilities and help when I get the chance."

He assessed his play this way for earlier.

"I have great vision and awareness on the field," Thomas said. "I know what's going on all the time and where I am at all times. I'm pretty aggressive, but like to mix it up and play with finesse too. I need to get to the ball faster and be quicker on the play. Also, I want to get tougher so I can't get knocked off course."

Recruiting Tidbits:

...Arkansas basketball program will host Louisville Doss prep star Jeff Brooks, a 6-8, 210-pound forward on an official visit this weekend.

...Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns (6-2, 190) and Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba (6-7, 305) weren't able to get together this weekend, but did watch Arkansas' 27-10 destruction of Auburn on their own televisions.

Both of the two stars - who are down to Arkansas and Auburn - came away impressed with the victors.

"I do think they showed that they can play and beat anyone in the country with that game," Burns said. "I feel like they might be good enough to win the SEC title."

"This tells me they have the ability to play with anybody in the country and that's important," Ziemba added.

...Two of the Razorbacks' top out-of-state targets - Sterlington (La.) wideout Ahmad Paige (6-2, 165, 4.4) and Memphis Christian Brothers linebacker Chris Walker (6-2, 215, 4.6) - have both made comments about renewed interest in Arkansas after the win.

Paige ranked as the No. 4 wideout in the country by and someone who came to Arkansas' Red-White game, is committed to Florida State, but still planning on taking visits to other schools.

Walker, who also made an unofficial trip to Arkansas this summer, notes he is trying to make a visit to an Razorback game before the season is over.

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