The 20 Mark

Arkansas' coaches are feeling very good about their unprecedented 20 early commitments so far in the 2008 class and hope to continue that momentum until signing date rolls around in a little under six months.

When Springdale High's Alex Tejada became the 10th commitment of the 2007 class exactly one year ago today, Arkansas football coaches were feeling pretty good about how recruiting was going.

So you can just imagine how great Razorback coach Houston Nutt and this staff feel as Aug. 7 rolls around this year and an unprecedented 20 verbal pledges are in place from 2008 prospects.

A whopping 14 of those commitments came over the summer with 10 of them happening in an 11-day span in July.

"We have never been in this position before," Nutt said Monday at the school's annual media day. "We have never had 20 before August 10th. The biggest thing is that you won a (SEC Western Division) championship and they see (Heisman Trophy runner-up) Darren McFadden on a lot of magazines.

"Another big thing is when the parents get here, they meet our faculty, see our academic room and meet our players, who are your best ambassadors," Nutt said. "They meet your coaches and the momma says I want my son to be here."

It's also a fact that more players than ever are committing earlier these days.

A recent Scout.com survey shows that the number of commitments by Aug. 1 across the nation this year as compared to five years ago is up a whopping 337 percent.

On August 1 of 2003, 215 prospects had committed to BCS schools.

In 2007, the number of prospects who have committed to BCS schools stood at 715.

"Recruiting is year-round now," Nutt said. "It never stops. We are in very good position now and feel very good about it. We want to keep those eggs in the basket because it is on-going 24-7."

UA assistant coach and recruiting co-ordinator Chris Vaughn is also obviously pleased with how things have gone so far.

"It's big having so many commitments this early," Vaughn said. "I think we are having a banner year recruiting so far and I think there are a lot of factors playing into that.

"I think the fact that we got so much exposure last year really helped as did the fact that Darren McFadden got so much publicity and kids all know who he is," Vaughn added. " I think the fact that we did a lot of hard work early in identifying players we wanted in our program and then got our offers out early also played into it."

The numbers are even more surprising considering the well-publicized turmoil that dominated the off-season.

"I think the one thing that I will say about that is that kids have come here, looked over our campus and met our coaches and players and know this is a unified family that cares for each other deeply," Vaughn said. "I think it speaks especially highly of our head coach, who has just put his head down and gone to work and impressed both the players we have here and the ones we have coming."

Arkansas has commitments from a pair of quarterbacks, a fullback, two tailbacks, three wideouts, two players that could play either wide receiver or cornerback, three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two cornerbacks, a free safety, a strong safety and a linebacker.

That includes seven players from Warren and Camden Fairview -- all landed by new offensive coordinator David Lee.

"I can't say enough about the job that David has done there," Nutt said. "It's so big."

What's next?

"We want the best football players we can possibly get," Vaughn said. "But we also want to get a couple more linebackers, a defensive end and another defensive lineman, another offensive lineman, a couple of tight ends and maybe even another great receiver.

"The key thing though is just to get the best possible football players that we can get in here," Vaughn added. "And we've got to make sure the ones we already have continue to feel the love from us."


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