Smashing Mountie

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson catches up with Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba (6-7, 305), who says his job is simply to smash people. 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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Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba was the biggest, most highly-ranked and certainly most-publicized of the 14 football prospects that took official visits to the University of Arkansas this past weekend.

But what might help the Razorbacks in their quest to sign one of the nation's best prep interior prospects is the fact that this weekend Ziemba (6-7, 305) - who has been on campus a lot already unofficially - was just a 17-year-old having a lot of fun.

"Actually it was a great visit and I saw some things that I actually had not seen before," Ziemba said. "I just had a really fun time hanging out with some of the younger linemen (and current Razorbacks) like Jonathan Luigs and Joey Crossland and Jose Valdez. I also got to spend time with John Aaron Rees and I just really enjoyed being around and getting to know those guys."

He also spent plenty of time with four in-state offensive linemen who have already committed to Arkansas in Monticello center Seth Oxner (6-5, 290), Jonesboro tackle Grant Cook (6-6, 310), Harrison guard Wade Grayson (6-4, 260) and Little Rock Catholic's Jake Bequette (6-5, 255).

They are a quartet of what is now 17 Razorback commitments with the addition Sunday of a pair of standouts in tailback Michael Harris (5-9. 190, 4.4) of Tulsa Booker T. Washington and cover cornerback Isaac Madsion (5-11, 185) of Dallas Carter.

"I told those other four guys that I felt like I was an oddball since I was the only one of the offensive linemen that wasn't already committed to Arkansas," Ziemba said. "They were kind joking around about me going ahead and joining them."

He might very well do that, but it wouldn't happen until after Jan. 12-14 at the earliest when he is scheduled to make his official visit to Auburn – his other finalist.

"I will say that this visit helps me visualize myself playing at Arkansas a little bit more than Auburn," Ziemba said. "But I am sure since I haven't been to Auburn on an official visit yet that once I do I will visualize myself playing down there as well. I would say it's still 50-50."

It was natural to ask Ziemba about all the publicity that surrounded the Arkansas program last week with one player leaving and some allegations of unrest among the staff.

"I thought about it a little at first, but I talked with everybody involved and I feel that everybody is on the same page," Ziemba said. "I think things are good there."

It was announced on Monday that Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt's contract had been extended through 2012.

Ziemba added that he has a job to do regardless of what play is called or who calls it.

"Look, I am an offensive lineman and I smash people for a living," Ziemba said. "I don't care whether we run or pass. My job is simply to smash people. The bottom line is are we winning. That other stuff is not going to be a factor with me."

O o o

Harris, from the same high school that produced current Razorback tailback Felix Jones, rushed for over 2,000 yards this season and found the end zone 36 times in a variety of ways.

"I had a great time on my official visit," Harris said. "It was amazing. They treated us very nice.

"The thing that stood out to me the most was watching the bowl practice," Harris said. "It was great. The coaches seem to be great coaches and it was just amazing to watch them get ready for a bowl game."

Harris got to hang out Jones and spent time as well with Razorback star and Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden.

"Felix was my host on the visit," Harris said. "We had a real good time hanging out together. We went bowling and we went to the mall. We did a couple of other activities. It was real fun."

Harris definitely noticed the production from the running backs in the current offensive scheme, and that only helped to entice him to pledge for the Razorbacks.

"As a running back you definitely notice that the running backs are doing great there," Harris said. "Darren McFadden is one of the main reasons that I committed. He finished second for the Heisman. It does not get any better than that. Plus they had two 1,000-yard rushers. That definitely grabs your attention."



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