Demetrius Dean won't have to travel far to play on Saturdays.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound sophomore wide receiver from Fayetteville High School became Bobby Petrino's first commitment in the 2011 class Thursday.
"My mom and I thought about it and sat down and decided Arkansas was the best choice," Dean said. "I felt like it was the right time for me to announce."
Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton said Dean wanted to stay close to home.
"He loves the fact it's in Fayetteville," Patton said. "It's close and his mom can come see him play. He fell in love with the coaches. He went to five or six of the home games and knows some of the coaches on a personal basis."
Dean caught 67 passes for 987 yards and 13 touchdowns in his sophomore season, earning 7A-West All-Conference honors.
"He's got great hands and great upper-body strength," Patton said. "There are several good things about him – I think he's got real good body control and plays the ball in the air very well.
"He kind of reminds me of a Larry Fitzgerald. Any time we throw the ball up in the air, he's very tough to defend. He's got a good vertical jump and comes down with the ball time and time again."
Dean and classmate quarterback Brandon Allen (6-2, 185) paired to make the most productive sophomore tandem in school history last fall, leading Fayetteville to the Class 7A Playoffs.
Allen is the son of Arkansas defensive line coach Bobby Allen and has received attention from Arkansas, UCLA, USC, Oregon and Alabama, among many others, Patton said.
"It's very exciting. Both of those kids are very, very talented. Having Brandon and Demetrius, it's a very good combination. They've got a great comfort level with each other.
"I think when it's all done we'll have two of the top kids in that class, not only in Arkansas, but maybe nationally."
Dean's offer came following Fayetteville's second game of the season at Jefferson City, Mo. In that game, Dean caught 10 passes for 109 yards and three touchdowns with Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino in attendance to watch his son, Bobby Petrino Jr.
Petrino was able to attend the game after Arkansas' scheduled game with Texas the next day had been postponed because of Hurricane Ike.
"I really didn't know he was there," Dean said. "That was my best game, but I was a little shocked they offered me the next day.
"It was fate, I guess. I was wondering why he was there."
For Arkansas to offer Dean first meant a lot, Patton said.
"Demetrius loves the scheme," Patton said. "He's really excited about the fact they're going to throw the football and they really showcase and utilize their receivers.
"When Coach Petrino and that staff came in, they've done wonders to improve high school relations and go after the best talent in Arkansas."
Patton said Dean wanted to commit right away, but took time to make the right decision.
"After he got offered he came and talked to me and said he wanted to come to Arkansas," Patton said. "I told him he needed to take his time and weigh his pros and cons. Of course I wanted him to be a Razorback – I'm bias. But I at least wanted him to go home and talk it over."
Arkansas remains the only school to offer Dean, Patton said, but others including LSU, Alabama, UCLA, Oregon and Ole Miss have shown interest.
Along with the close proximity to home, Patton said Dean is also excited to play with high school teammate Colby Berna, who signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play with the Razorbacks.
"I don't think Colby really pressured him or anything, but one thing Demetrius did say was a bright spot was that he gets to play with Colby again," Patton said. "He looks up to Colby and respects him."
Berna said he had no idea Dean would commit so soon.
"Yesterday (at the signing party) when he came up to shake my hand I told him, ‘I expect to see you there in a couple of years,'" said Berna, who noted Dean fits the mold of Petrino's ideal longer, more athletic receiver. "When I found out this afternoon he had committed it was kind of ironic."
Dean still needs to get bigger and stronger, Patton said. The Bulldogs use him in multiple looks – at wide receiver, tight end and H-back.
"I need to get my body toned and work on my speed," said Dean, who runs a mid-4.7, 40-yard dash. "I'm going to a speed academy in Springdale this summer."
Berna said he could help with further developing Dean by letting him know what to expect once he gets on campus. He said the duo now needs to double-team Allen and junior tight end Josh Hale (6-3, 214) to get them on board with the Razorbacks.
"That's the plan," Berna said. "Josh wants to come to Arkansas and I've talked to him a little bit, and talked to Coach (Tim) Horton about him.
"We're going to push both of them if they get offered to make the decision quick like we both have because it's great to know where you're going. It kind of takes away from your senior year if you don't."
Dean to Arkansas
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