Positive About Petrino

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Arkansas high school coaches Kevin Kelly of Pulaski Academy and Warren's Bo Hembree about new Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino. 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 ESPN Talking Heads may have gotten their licks in on new University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino when he left the Atlanta Falcons, but more importantly he's getting the love from the in-state players and their coaches.

Ones such as Pulaski Academy head coach Kevin Kelly and Warren head coach Bo Hembree, two of the state's most successful coaches and brightest offensive minds that like to put the ball in the air.

Both coaches have gotten the chance to meet Petrino as he made his way to check on their players – five of which are currently committed to the Razorbacks.

"I think it is a great hire for the University of Arkansas," Hembree said. "Our kids were a little concerned about what was going to happen up there, but they are all very excited about the hiring of Coach Petrino and what he will bring to the Razorbacks' offense."

Kelly echoed those same type sentiments.

"I think they have hired a coach that fits in what most fans are looking for these days," Kelly said. "They want to be able to run the ball, but they also want to be able to throw it any time you want to or need to. I think Coach Petrino's offense is really going to excite a lot of the fans."

Warren wideout Chris Gragg, one of the four players from Warren committed to Arkansas, said he gets good vibes from Petrino.

"When he came into my home, he seemed like a really nice person and someone that you could talk offense about with or just talk about anything with like cars or motorcycles or whatever," Gragg said. "My dad really liked him a lot as well and they hit it off and were just very comfortable talking to each other."

It didn't hurt what Petrino was bringing to the conversation.

"He told us that he will run a lot of three wide receivers sets with a tight end also, some four wide receivers and even some five wide receiver formations," Gragg said. "That's got all of us Warren guys really excited about how many passes we might get up there and have a chance to catch right away."

Although Greg Childs and Jarius Wright – who join Gragg and Basmine Jones as the other UA commits from Warren – have visited other places, Gragg feels like all four will still be Razorbacks.

"In talking among ourselves, not only did Coach Petrino really impress us, but he also really impressed our families," Gragg said. "I am solidly committed and I feel like they are all solid as well."

Pulaski Academy wideout Cruz Williams, another UA commit who caught 105 passes this past season, was obviously thrilled.

"Man, it's going to be great up there with Coach Petrino and him throwing the ball more than they used to," Williams said. "I couldn't be more excited."

Kelly said he knew that Williams and many other in-state talents would really like the hire.

"Coach Petrino does what a lot the coaches and the programs in the state are doing or moving toward doing," Kelly said. "That's using their running back, but also players want to play in wide open offenses that throw the ball around the field like a lot of us are these days. The kids are very intelligent these days and take that all into account when making a decision."

Hembree said he thinks that the hire of Petrino will do wonders for in-state recruiting.

"I know that our guys were a little worried, not knowing what the coach was going to be like that was hired, what he would do with the offense and just all the uncertainty with things," Hembree said. "But the hiring of Coach Petrino was a great move and I think all of them will now stay with the U of A."





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