Florida prep running back Thomas Shuler has never stepped on the campus of the University of Arkansas, but he is sure that's where he wants to play his college football.
Shuler (6-0, 235, 4.58) from Dr. Phillips High in Orlando, made that decision public Tuesday when he became the 10th prospect of the 2008 class to verbal pledge to sign with the Razorbacks.
Shuler is coming off a season in which he had over 1,000 yards total offense, 19 touchdowns and was known for being both a devastating blocker and runner in Phillips' split back offense.
"He is a great player both with and without the football," Phillips head coach Kevin Pettis said Tuesday afternoon. "He can either run over you, run away from you or blow you up with a block to let somebody else run free. He's a heck of a player."
Shuler, who bench presses 405 pounds and squats 675, could play either at fullback or tailback in college.
"I think that he will be a tailback because he has that combination of power and speed, but he would certainly be a great fullback if that's where they use him as well," Pettis said.
Pettis said that Shuler has offers from Arkansas, Florida State, LSU, Auburn, West Virginia, Louisville and Colorado while Florida and Alabama are thought to be near offering him per Pettis.
"But he has decided that he wants to go to Arkansas," Pettis said. "He's not going to be able to make it up there this summer, but he is coming to one of the first two games."
UA assistant coach Alex Wood has been recruiting Shuler for the Razorbacks.
"Coach Wood and he just hit it off really well early on and clicked," Pettis said. "He's also a big fan of their program and their offense.
In an earlier interview with Scout.com, Shuler noted that was indeed true.
"Arkansas is a great program for a running back," Shuler said. "They led the nation in rushing last year and have a great team. I just love their offense."
He also said that he is looking to get out of Florida.
"I want to get away from Florida," Shuler said. "I've lived here all my life and it's time to leave. I'm looking for a nice environment and I'd rather play in a small town that has great football tradition."
Shuler is one of four Dr. Phillips offensive players to already commit to D-1 schools.
Running back Embry Peoples is slated to sign with Georgia Tech, quarterback Chris Wilkes with Ole Miss and wideout Damian Allen with Auburn.
"We were 10-3 counting the Kickoff Classic last season and we have 17 starters coming back this season," Pettis said. "We think we are going to have a great year."
Shuler to Arkansas
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