FOOTBALL: Petrino's Offense Takes Shape

FAYETTEVILLE — From the moment he was introduced as Arkansas' coach, Bobby Petrino has talked about wanting to bring his pass-happy offense to a school known for running the football.

In order to make the transition go smoother, Petrino needed to add some skill players that fit into his offensive system.

He did that Wednesday in a big way.

Petrino capped off his first recruiting class at Arkansas by stealing highly touted wide receiver Joe Adams away from Southern California and then getting signatures from some of the state's top offensive talent.

"We do feel like when we're making this transition from what they did offensively in the past to what we want to do, receiver was something we really had to go out and find guys that we felt good about," Petrino said during a news conference in Arkansas' team meeting room.

"It didn't take a long time to know Joe was one of those guys."

The Razorbacks made it a priority to pick up several tall wide receivers, a few strong-armed quarterbacks and a couple of running backs looking to play immediately.

Arkansas' 2008 recruiting class got off to a big start last month when former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett decided to transfer to the Razorbacks over schools like Tennessee and UCLA.

And Adams' decision Wednesday morning to sign with Arkansas instead of USC put the final touches on a 26-man recruiting class that ranks in the top 25 nationally. had Petrino's recruiting class ranked No. 18 nationally, and had the Razorbacks at No. 23. put the Hogs down at No. 37, even though they loaded up on offensive playmakers.

"We're all about, we call it FTS — ‘feed the studs.' We're as much about calling plays for players than we are just calling plays," Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said.

"You need great players and find out what they can do best and then go and get them the ball."

Bobby Petrino and his coaching staff helped shore up their defensive line and secondary on National Signing Day with the addition of several recruits.

But the biggest priority was to get those skill players who could fit the team's needs on offense.

Arkansas has lost its top three rushers and top five receivers from last season, and the early departures of running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones left the Razorbacks searching for playmakers.

Bobby Petrino hopes he found one in running back De'Anthony Curtis, a four-star recruit from Camden. The Razorbacks also signed five wide receivers, including Adams and three from Warren — Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Chris Gragg.

Of course, Petrino's reputation for being an offensive mastermind didn't hurt during the recruiting process.

"I think what (my reputation) does is it gets the door open," Petrino said. "The fact that we've had success offensively, we've been able to show that we (can) put some points on the board and have fun doing it. But you've got to sell it."

Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt was criticized over the past few years for letting some of the state's top high school talent leave the state.

Former Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns and Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba signed with Auburn last year. Running back Broderick Green decided to go to USC.

But with his first recruiting class, Petrino showed for the most part that he could keep the local talent home.

According to Hawgs Illustrated, this year's top 10 prospects in Arkansas signed with the Razorbacks. Adams was the highlight of the bunch.

"Really the thing that helped us get over the top — or get back in the game (with Joe) — was when Coach (Petrino) got hired because Joe didn't really see that he was a fit in Coach Nutt's offense," Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton said.

"Whereas in Coach Petrino's offense, as a wide receiver — which is what (Joe) wanted to play — (he realized), ‘Hey, I've got a chance to come catch some balls.'"

The offensive transition has begun.

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