Top Three Flee The State

FAYETTEVILLE -- No matter how Arkansas' 2007 football recruiting class pans out, it might be remembered for one thing.

The ones that got away.

With the Razorbacks and coach Houston Nutt always emphasizing the importance of keeping a fence around the state to keep top players in, it's safe to say this year that fence came crashing down.

Considered by almost all recruiting sources to be the top three prospects in the state, Kodi Burns, Broderick Green and Lee Ziemba now have one thing in common.

They are not going to the University of Arkansas.

Instead, Burns -- a five-star quarterback from Fort Smith Northside -- Green, a Parade All-American tailback from Pulaski Academy and Ziemba, a Parade All-American offensive tackle from Rogers, have chosen to go different routes.


For all three top recruits, the answer is somewhat different.

In Ziemba's case, there were family ties to Auburn, where he signed. Both of his parents attended Auburn before coming to Northwest Arkansas. But Ziemba, who helped Rogers to a state 7A runner-up finish in 2006, said his family background wasn't the deciding factor in his choosing the Tigers over the Hogs.

"It didn't have anything to do with (my parents attending Auburn)," Ziemba said. "Really and truly, I was encouraged by my parents to take a look at more schools than just Arkansas. So I decided to look at three schools, Oklahoma, Auburn and Ole Miss.

"Auburn stood out to me and I figured I had to do what was best for me. All those people saying I was pressured into going there, that's not how it happened at all."

Ziemba said he felt good about his recruiting experience at Arkansas. Just not as good a feeling as he got from Auburn.

"It had nothing to do with that (a bad experience at Arkansas)," Ziemba said. "Those other schools presented a good offer.

"I just felt more comfortable at Auburn."

While Ziemba held nothing against the Razorbacks, the same can't be said for Green.

In an interview with television station KTHV in Little Rock last month, the USC signee let it be known he wasn't happy about the way Arkansas had recruited him, saying:

"I didn't feel (Arkansas) was the school for me. I didn't think it was a good fit. It was a terrible recruiting process. I mean I was like, this is my home state, I was thinking they were going to offer me first and they came in like 11th or 12th. All these out-of-state schools like USC, Virginia Tech and Penn State came at me first."

After choosing the Trojans early in the season, Green opened his recruitment back up last week before sticking with USC at the very end.

All the while, Arkansas was nowhere to be found.

"...I had a big interest in Arkansas, because my brother goes up there, my cousins go up there and a lot of my friends are up there, especially from (Pulaski Academy)," Green told KTHV. "Being close to home and stuff like that, but things just didn't work out."

As for Burns, he was -- like Ziemba -- back and forth between Arkansas and Auburn for much of the recruiting game. But he admits seeing what went on behind the scenes in Fayetteville, with Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams leaving the team and coach Gus Malzahn taking another job, didn't help the Razorbacks' cause.

"I felt like (the Razorbacks) were (recruiting me hard) in a way," Burns said. "But after coach Malzahn left, that kind of changed everything for me."

Burns said he wasn't surprised to see so many recruits leave the state, despite Arkansas' first 10-win season since 1989.

"Not really, because with everything that was going on at Arkansas I kind of knew what was going on behind the scenes," Burns said. "The 10 wins, that was just part of it until that behind the scenes stuff came out."

A Gap In The Fence?

Since 1998 when Houston Nutt took over as Arkansas football coach, five of 12 Parade All-Americans from the state have chosen not to become Razorbacks:

Parade All-Americans from Arkansas

1998 through 2007

Year Player School

1998 Jonathan Adams Arkansas State

1999 Gary Brashears Arkansas (left team)

1999 Cedric Cobbs Arkansas

2001 Shawn Andrews Arkansas

2001 Jeb Huckeba Arkansas

2001 Cedric Houston Tennessee

2003 Bret Smith Tennessee

2004 Peyton Hillis Arkansas

2005 Darren McFadden Arkansas

2006 Mitch Mustain Arkansas (left team)

2007 Broderick Green USC

2007 Lee Ziemba Auburn

Source - Parade Magazine

Hawgs Daily Top Stories