FOOTBALL: Mallet's Impact Felt on Signing Cla

FAYETTEVILLE — There was a good reason Ryan Mallett's name was listed No. 1 among the batch of 2008 signees on the board in Arkansas' team meeting room Wednesday.

The former Michigan quarterback, who transferred last month, will long be remembered as the first big pickup secured by new Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. And, no doubt, Mallett was one of the big reasons the Razorbacks proceeded to pull in a stash of talented offensive players despite having less than two months to do so.

"Ryan was arguably one of the best prospects in the country a year ago and one of the most high-profile athletes in the country," Arkansas quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee said. "I think when you hear his name, some of these recruits definitely jumped in the boat."

Mallett left Michigan after former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez and his spread offense was hired to replace Lloyd Carr. Mallett feared his strengths as a drop-back passer wouldn't fit Rodriguez's style.

NCAA transfer rules prohibit him from playing until 2009, but the school has filed a waiver in hopes he will become eligible immediately.

Whether he plays in 2008, other prospects, like receivers Jarius Wright and Cruz Williams, were intrigued about the possibility of joining him.

"I watched Mallett a couple of times at Michigan last season and really liked what I saw," Wright told Hawgs Illustrated two weeks ago. "We are going to have some great quarterbacks up there."

The 6-foot-7 Mallett is one of three quarterbacks among the 26-man signing class. Camden Fairview High's Jim Youngblood and Greenwood High's Tyler Wilson signed national letters of intent Wednesday, shrugging off the fact Mallett had already enrolled in school.

The Razorbacks kept both prospects abreast of Mallett's arrival during the recruiting process, explaining that they wouldn't simply hand him the position. Wilson and Youngblood were confident they could compete and their decision to sign with Arkansas impressed the staff.

"If someone's ever nervous because you're recruiting another good player at their position, then you should be nervous about them," offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. "A great player wants to go out and compete against other great players."

The Razorbacks didn't hide their excitement about Mallett, though.

McGee said there initially were reports that Mallett wasn't a coachable kid, something he has "found no evidence of" the past few weeks. Bobby and Paul Petrino both raved about his leadership skills, something they witnessed whenever he hosted prospects during recruiting weekends.

So, in essence, Mallett didn't just become the first big-name player to join Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. He helped bring a few others in as well.

"I don't think there's any question that everyone knows who he is," Bobby Petrino said. "The high school player that he was and his ability to play as a true freshman at Michigan, I'm certain that the receivers were excited about that.

"Then all you had to do was be in the room with him for about five or 10 minutes and see the leadership that he possesses. I know one thing, I was very impressed with him."

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