Passing Lumberjack

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson catches up with Warren junior-to-be quarterback Hayden Smith, who threw passes to four future Razorbacks last season and talks about their strengths. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner for details.




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When the University of Arkansas starts warming up for its first spring football practice under Bobby Petrino on Thursday afternoon, some of possibly its biggest offensive weapons for the 2008 season will likely still be in their classrooms.

Their high school classrooms, that is.

The Razorbacks loaded up at wide receiver in the 2008 recruiting class with no less than five standouts who could see some time next season, but remain prepsters for a couple more months.

Pulaski Academy's Cruz Williams and Central Arkansas Christian's Joe Adams – the cover boys for the 2008 Hawgs Illustrated recruiting issue – will be join by a talented trio of wideouts from Warren.

Who better to talk about those guys - Jarius Wright (5-11, 180, 4.3), Greg Childs (6-4, 200, 4.6) and Chris Gragg (6-3, 190, 4.5) as well as Basmine Jones (6-2, 190, 4.5) – a wideout in high school who will be a defender than college – than the guy who threw them the ball last season.

That would be Warren junior-to-be quarterback Hayden Smith (5-11, 175), who had the opportunity to fling it for nearly 4,000 yards to those guys his sophomore season.

"I believe that if those guys go up there, work hard and keep their grades up that they will be great for the Razorbacks," Smith said. "I got along great with each one of them and they are great guys. I think they all will come in and contribute right away next year."

Smith, who threw for 3,841 yards and 45 touchdowns as a sophomore to establish himself as a 2010 Division I prospect, broke down the strengths of his former pass-catchers.

• Jarius Wright:

"Jarius has got 4.3 speed and is the fastest guy I have ever been around and I think in the state," Smith said. "He proved he could beat anybody deep and he was my go-to guy."

• Greg Childs:

"Greg is 6-4, a big target that you could throw to across the middle and he was not scared to go across there like some players are," Smith said.

• Chris Gragg:

"Chris Gragg might have the best hands on the team and also runs great routes," Smith said. "I think he is overlooked, but is a great player and a great kid to be around."

• Basmine Jones:

"Basmine has great hands and was a great route runner and I think that will help him on the defensive side of the ball in college," Smith said. "He is real, real tough."

Smith will still have some weapons around next season with 2009 wide receiver prospect Quinn Franklin (6-3, 190, 4.5) – who already has an offer from the Razorbacks – and junior-to-be tailback Courtney Haskell (5-11, 205, 4.5).

"I feel like next year we are going to surprise some people," Smith said. "Just because we lost four great players doesn't mean we don't have anybody coming back. All of us are going to have to step it up and do our part, but I think we will."

Smith was just 14 last summer and feeling his way with the signal callers job during 7-on-7 camps, but obviously really came on.

"I learned a lot of things this season from m coaches and my teammates and just by playing high school football," Smith said. "The biggest thing is that you have to keep your head up and make the next play if something doesn't go right with the play you just ran.

"Playing high school football was a great challenge, but the fact that I played with some great athletes made it a lot easier," Smith added. "I am going to take what I learned last year into this year."

In addition to one of the state's best coaches in Bo Hembree, Smith has had the chance to work with former Razorback quarterback Jason Allen.

The last time was at the Southern Combine in Springdale back on March 1.

"He is a great guy and I learned a lot from him just like I did last summer at the Top Gun Challenge," Smith said. "He has given me a few drills here and there that will help me out a lot."

Smith will attend several football camps and lead his team through 7-on-7 drills this summer.

"I'm playing baseball right now and Coach Bo isn't too much for that, but we'll start gearing up for football pretty soon," Smith said. "I am looking forward to a great spring and summer and next season."





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