Pruitt changes gears

Springdale Har-Ber two-sport star Houston Pruitt (6-0, 184) thought he had the recruiting game figured out. That was until a baseball scholarship offer by the Razorbacks.

Admittedly, the recruiting trail has been a roller coaster ride full of twists and turns for Springdale Har-Ber's Houston Pruitt.

Monday the two-sport star had one more twist that might ultimately be one of fate. Already holding football scholarship offers from Tulsa and Louisiana-Monroe, Pruitt (6-0, 184, 4.53) picked up a baseball offer from the University of Arkansas.

"(Pitching) Coach Dave Jorn called and offered me and I was thrilled. It was amazing," Pruitt said. "I was definitely leaning toward football. Now I'm leaning a lot more toward baseball. I'm keeping my options open to see how this plays out but right now it's a lot more toward baseball."

With a 92 MPH fastball, Pruitt has known he had major league talent on the diamond, but his first passion of football had seemingly been his collegiate sport of choice. However, his love for the Razorbacks – a program coming off an extended stay at the College World Series – could ultimately end up playing a major role in his final decision, which he said could come in the next "week to three weeks."

"It's definitely a blessing because they're a great team and were one of the best teams in the nation," said Pruitt, who went 2-1 with three saves as a junior. "They'll definitely be back in Omaha real soon – if not next year. It's an elite program.

"I love the game and have people around me telling me that I throw hard enough I can play D-1. I'd love to go somewhere to try and play football and baseball. The thing is I've been invited to pro baseball camps and baseball can take me a lot further than football. Baseball has been my main focus this summer."

As a junior, Pruitt starred both on the mound and at the plate for the Wildcats. He recorded a 2.45 ERA and struck out 20 batters as a pitcher and batted .462 with six home runs and 20 stolen bases as a center fielder.

Pruitt, who recorded 96 tackles and four interceptions on the gridiron as a junior, said the chance of playing two sports in college isn't likely. That hasn't stopped the safety on the football field from pulling double-duty this summer.

As part of the Wildcat football team, Pruitt has already been to a pair of 7-on-7 tournaments with three more scheduled, including next week at Shiloh Christian in Springdale and culminating in the National Select 7-on-7 Championships in Hoover, Ala., later this month, where Har-Ber is the defending champion.

On the diamond Pruitt attended a pro prospect camp in Jackson, Miss., last month and will head to another at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on July 27. Har-Ber football coach Chris Wood said it has been exciting to watch Pruitt excel in both sports.

"Any time you get an opportunity to further your career and then get school paid for is huge, whether it be football, baseball – whatever the sport is," said Wood of Pruitt, who will also play some quarterback out of the Wildcat formation in the fall. "Fortunately for Houston he's blessed to be talented in two sports.

"He's worked hard in both, he's committed to both and just from my standpoint as a coach that has been part of his life for three years, I'm so excited for him that Arkansas has offered. You're talking about the SEC and a school that has come off a College World Series appearance, playing the best baseball in the country. I'm excited because it's right here in the backyard."

Playing both sports has also helped in conditioning for a young man that has recorded a 260-pound bench press and 375-pound squat.

"My sophomore year I weighed about 165 pounds and put on about 10 pounds and my fastball went from 90 to 91 last year," Pruitt said. "Then I put on about five more pounds and my fastball hit 92. Football has probably helped me out with that."

Wood said the dual sports will help Pruitt at the next level, regardless of sport.

"Strength and weight training programs are vital for anyone trying to play at the next level," Wood said. "It prevents injuries, just being able to maintain strength and his body won't wear down and allows him to double-dip in two sports. From a safety deal, it keeps him healthy and makes his body more used to being on two tracks of athletics."

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