The Razorbacks took an aggressive approach with their 2009 recruiting class, going into states like Texas, Louisiana and California and beating out the local schools for some of the nation's top talent.
They picked up four-star running back Ronnie Wingo out of St. Louis. They fought off Texas to get wide receiver Cobi Hamilton. And they tapped into a new pipeline by signing three junior college players from College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California.
"I think that's one thing that I really liked about our coaching staff this year; we weren't going to take a backseat to anybody," Petrino said Wednesday afternoon during a news conference to announce his second recruiting class at Arkansas.
"We went out there and tried to bow up and recruit against everybody that we could."
The Razorbacks continued to have success in Arkansas, signing local talent like Fayetteville High offensive lineman Colby Berna and Helena-West Helena cornerback Darius Winston, a five-star recruit who's undeniably the star of the class.
But the Hogs also showed they're willing to divert from their usual recruiting stops to add some big-time prospects.
In a sign that Petrino wants to turn Arkansas into a player on a national stage, the Hogs picked up recruits out of eight states. They went as far east as Florida and as far west as California to assemble a recruiting class that is ranked 14th by Rivals.com and 19th by Scout.com.
"To go to Texarkana, Texas and beat Texas (for Hamilton), that's sweet. And to go to St. Louis and beat Missouri and Illinois (for Wingo), that's good," Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton said.
"To go to Oklahoma and beat Oklahoma, those are the things that we've got to be able to do if we want to get to a BCS game."
Arkansas compiled its highest-rated recruiting class in recent memory despite coming off a 5-7 season and not making a bowl game in Petrino's first season in Fayetteville.
A year ago, Petrino had to scramble to put together a recruiting class that was loaded with local talent. But because this year's talent pool in Arkansas was considered to be rather weak, the Razorbacks went out of state to pick up most of their 28 recruits and three midterm signees.
Petrino and his assistants put an emphasis on bolstering their secondary and defensive line with big, tall and fast recruits. They signed six defensive linemen, adding depth and perhaps toughness to a unit that got pushed around last season.
"We not only got bigger, but we got taller, we got faster. It's going to change the whole face of our weight room when we walk into that weight room," Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said.
"I'm going to be able to walk into the defensive huddle and have to look up instead of looking eye to eye. And the speed is going to be ‘whoosh' when they run by us."
Arkansas also addressed its glaring holes in the secondary with the addition of six defensive backs, including a few like Winston who will likely compete immediately for starting jobs.
National Signing Day was especially emotional for Winston, who's rated by Scout.com as the nation's fourth-best cornerback in the 2009 class. His grandmother died before his signing ceremony at Helena-West Helana Central.
"I'm happy to make it official, but I'm not in a good mood right now," Winston said. "I don't know what to think about it right now."
Winston was one of only seven instate players who signed with the Razorbacks, leaving the other 24 spots in the class to be filled by out-of-state prospects.
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino had connections in Florida. Horton was adamant that the Razorbacks establish themselves in the St. Louis area. And Robinson's contacts at College of the Sequoias allowed the Hogs to fight off some other schools for talent.
It was all part of Petrino's new, aggressive approach to recruiting.
"You don't want to hear the verbiage I'd use, but to be politically correct, the heck with everybody else. This is us," Robinson said. "This is Arkansas, so we're not going to take a backseat to anybody."
Player Pos. Ht. Class School
Alvin Bailey OL 6-5 330 Broken Arrow, Okla.
Neal Barlow WR 6-6 190 Pulaski Academy
Colby Berna OL 6-5 285 Fayetteville
Shauntez Bruce OL 6-5 300 Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln
Ryan Calendar DL 6-7 226 Caddo Mills, Texas
Rudell Crim DB 6-0 190 Butler County CC
*Knile Davis RB 6-1 209 Fort Bend (Texas) Marshall
David Gordon DB 5-11 170 Tulsa (Okla.) East Central
*x Broderick Green RB 6-2 240 Pulaski Academy
Cobi Hamilton WR 6-3 198 Texarkana, Texas
John Henderson DL 6-0 309 College of the Sequoias
**Rickey Hughey ATH 6-5 231 Lafayette County
DeQuinta Jones DL 6-4 305 Bastrop, La.
Anthony Leon DB 6-4 230 College of the Sequoias
**Kevin Lowery DL 6-3 286 Gainesville, Fla.
Brandon Mitchell QB 6-4 220 Amite, La.
Jerry Mitchell DB 6-1 198 Mandeville, La.
Austin Moss LB 6-3 218 Rockwall (Texas) Heath
Colton Nash DL 6-6 261 Sulphur Springs, Texas
Anthony Oden OL 6-8 328 Hargrave Military Academy
Ross Rasner DB 6-0 205 Waco (Texas) Reicher
Lance Ray WR 6-3 183 Havana (Fla.) East Gadsden
* Andru Stewart DB 5-11 190 College of the Sequoias
Travis Swanson OL 6-5 298 Kingwood, Texas
Austin Tate TE 6-6 230 Harrison
Robert Thomas DL 6-1 300 Muskogee, Okla.
Zhamal Thomas OL 6-4 315 Navarro (Texas) College
Terrell Williams LB 6-3 217 Tulsa (Okla.) Union
Turell Williams RB 6-2 215 Helena-West Helena Central
Ronnie Wingo Jr. RB 6-3 220 St. Louis (Mo.) University
Darius Winston DB 6-0 180 Helena-West Helena Central
* — Already enrolled in school
** — Also signed junior college letters on Wednesday
x — Transfer from Southern California
SEC SIGNING LISTS
Player Pos. Ht. Wt. School
Dontae Aycock RB 5-10 216 Chamberlain
Daren Bates DB 5-11 195 Olive Branch, Miss.
DeAngelo Benton WR 6-3 205 Bastrop, La.
Emory Blake WR 6-1 194 Stephen F. Austin, Texas
Terrence Coleman DL 6-1 251 Mobile Williamson
Robert Cooper ATH 6-4 204 Mobile Daphne
Nosa Eguae DL 6-3 234 Mansfield (Texas) Summit
Jonathan Evans LB 5-11 202 Prichard Blount
Nick Fairley DL 6-4 295 Copiah-Lincoln CC
Dee Ford DE 6-3 205 Odenville St. Clair County
Eltoro Freeman LB 6-0 223 Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
Harris Gaston LB 6-3 210 Bessemer Academy
Anthony Gulley ATH 5-11 185 Brantley
Andre Harris OL 6-4 300 Lovejoy, Ga.
Josh Jackson DL 6-2 260 Gainesville, Ga.
Brandon Jacobs RB 6-0 237 Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview
LaVoyd James WR 5-10 180 Mobile Williamson
Izauea Lanier DB 6-0 185 Gordo
Philip Lutzenkirchen TE 6-4 240 Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter
Onterio McCalebb RB 6-0 175 Hargrave Military Academy
Clint Moseley QB 6-4 196 Leroy
Taikwon Paige DB 5-10 175 Georgia Military College
Tyrik Rollison QB 6-2 185 Sulphur Springs, Texas
Travante Stallworth WR 5-9 180 Leesville, La.
John Sullen OL 6-5 325 Auburn
Reggie Taylor DB 5-10 165 Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County
Jamar Travis DL 6-1 298 Brewton W.S. Neal
Demond Washington ATH 5-9 185 Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
Nick Alajajian OL 6-4 280 Naples
Jon Bostic LB 6-2 225 Palm Beach Central
Gary Brown DT 6-4 275 West Gadsden
Andre Debose WR 5-11 176 Seminole
Josh Evans DB 6-2 185 Irvington, N.J.
Dee Finley S 6-1 193 Milford Academy
Mike Gillislee RB 6-0 190 DeLand
Jon Halapio OL 6-4 300 St. Petersburg Catholic
Jonotthan Harrison OL 6-3 279 South Lake
Edwin Herbert DT 6-3 295 City College of San Francisco
Jelani Jenkins LB 6-1 200 Our Lady Good Counsel
Kedric Johnson DE 6-4 215 Palmetto
Kyle Koehne OL 6-6 300 Cathedral
Xavier Nixon OL 6-6 285 Jack Britt
Desmond Parks TE 6-6 215 Greer, S.C.
Jordan Reed QB 6-3 225 New London, Conn.
Chris Burnette OG 6-2 300 Troup Co.
Washaun Ealey RB 5-11 205 Emanuel Co. Institute
Michael Gilliard LB 6-2 200 Valdosta
Abry Jones DT 6-3 273 Northside
Dallas Lee OG 6-4 295 Buford
Austin Long OL 6-5 268 Briarcrest Christian
Derrick Lott DT 6-4 270 North Cobb
Jordan Love DB 6-0 185 Deep Run
Arthur Lynch TE 6-5 240 Dartmouth, Mass.
Zach Mettenberger QB 6-5 228 Oconee Co.
Dexter Moody LB 6-2 205 Emanuel Co. Institute
Aaron Murray QB 6-1 205 Plant
Montez Robinson DE 6-5 235 Avon, Ind.
Branden Smith DB 5-11 171 Washington
Chase Vasser LB 6-3 208 Chestatee
Shawn Williams DB 6-1 195 Early Co.
Rantavious Wooten WR 5-10 158 Glades Central
Brian Adams WR 6-4 210 Gainesville (Ga.) South Forsyth
Jordan Aumiller ATH 6-4 199 Boyle Co.
Justin Bean WR 6-2 Tupelo, Miss.
Mister Cobble DT 6-0 Central
Mark Crawford DT 6-1 290 Coffeyville CC
Qua Huzzie LB 5-11 205 LaGrange, Ga.
Tristian Johnson DE 6-3 222 LaGrange, Ga.
Anthony Kendrick WR/TE 6-4 220 Seven Lakes, Texas
Patrick Ligon DE 6-5 255 Christian Brothers
LaRod King WR 6-6 190 North Hardin
Chris Matthews WR 6-5 210 Los Angeles (Calif.) Harbor College
Demetri Merritt LB 6-3 200 LaGrange, Ga.
Terrell Mitchell NA 6-6 220 McEachern
Ryan Mosby LB 6-0 197 Rockwall (Texas) Heath
Ryan Mossakowski QB 6-4 201 Frisco (Texas) Centennial
Martavius Neloms DB 6-2 175 Memphis (Tenn.) Fairly
Morgan Newton QB 6-4 220 Carmel, Ind.
Donald Russell RB 5-11 205 West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer
Sam Simpson OL 6-4 292 Lexington (Ky.) Henry Clay
Dakotah Tyler RB 6-0 Indianapolis Pike
Jarvis Walker LB 6-2 202 Marrero (La.) Archbishop Rummel
Larry Warford OL 6-4 349 Richmond (Ky.) Madison Central
Ridge Wilson LB 6-3 207 Louisville (Ky.) Central
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Johnthan Banks DB 6-2 170 Maben East Webster
Leon Berry WR 6-1 185 East Mississippi CC
Josh Boyd DL 6-3 275 Philadelphia
Sean Brauchle PK 5-9 175 Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
Chad Bumphis WR 5-10 193 Tupelo
Montrell Conner RB 6-2 215 Monroe (La.) Ouachita Parish
Fletcher Cox DL 6-4 240 Yazoo City
Billy Hamilton WR 5-10 170 Taylorsville
Brandon Heavens WR 5-10 170 Bessemer (Ala.) Jess Lanier
Mardrecas Hood WR 6-3 180 Reform (Ala.) Pickens County
Heath Hutchins P 6-2 215 Itawamba CC
Gabriel Jackson OL 6-4 295 Liberty Amite County
Maurice Langston DB 5-11 185 East Central CC
Cameron Lawrence DB 6-2 205 Coldwater Magnolia Heights
Johnathan McKenzie DL 6-4 235 Starkville Academy
Pernell McPhee DL 6-4 270 Itawamba CC
LaDarius Perkins RB 5-10 195 Greenville St. Joseph
Tyler Russell QB 6-4 200 Meridian
Ricco Sanders WR 5-11 175 Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes
William Shumpert RB 6-0 238 Fulton Itawamba Agricultural
Deontae Skinner LB 6-1 234 Macon Noxubee County
Darius Slay DB 6-0 175 Brunswick, Ga.
Chris Smith WR 6-1 195 Meridian
Dennis Thames DB 5-11 185 Louisville
Sam Watts OL 6-4 290 Conyers (Ga.) Salem
Chris White LB 6-4 235 Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
Nickoe Whitley DB 5-11 195 Jackson Provine
Montori Hughes DL 6-5 275 Murfreesboro Siegel
Nigel Mitchell-Thornton LB 6-2 228 Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson
Rae Sykes DE 6-4 240 Coffeyville CC
Toney Williams RB 6-1 235 Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton
Jerod Askew LB 6-1 230 Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith
Mike Edwards DB 5-10 170 Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville Academic
Eric Gordon DB 5-10 187 Nashville Hillsboro
James Green WR 6-2 190 Tallahassee (Fla.) Leon
Arthur Jeffery DL 6-4 285 Sarasota (Fla.) Booker
Greg King LB 6-3 200 Memphis Melrose
Darren Myles S 6-1 190 Atlanta Carver
Robert Nelson LB 6-0 205 Stone Mountain, Ga.
Nyshier Oliver ATH 5-10 180 Jersey City (NJ) Saint Peter's Prep
Kevin Revis OL 6-4 265 Evansville Rhea County
Zach Rogers WR 6-2 170 Nashville David Lipscomb
Nu'Keese Richardson WR 5-10 165 Pahokee, Fla.
JerQuari Schofield OL 6-6 315 Aiken (S.C.) South Aiken
Marsalis Teague ATH 5-10 180 Paris Henry County
Marlon Walls DL 6-2 225 Hargrave Military Academy
OLE MISS REBELS
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE