Since taking over at Greenwood High School in 2004, Rick Jones has turned the already-successful football program into a football factory of recruits.
Three Bulldogs – including Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and receiver Lucas Miller – have earned scholarships on the Division-I level over that span. Most everyone in the small town just south of Fort Smith believes senior wide receiver Spencer Harris is the next big thing.
"He has had a great summer," Jones said. "We've got 7-on-7 every Wednesday morning and he just looks better and better. The thing I appreciate as a coach is his leadership skills and work ethic. He's been real solid for us and he's going to make somebody a real nice player."
Harris (6-3, 185) caught 73 passes for 1,266 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
The highlight was the game-winning catch with 1:43 left in a state quarterfinal win over Batesville and has continued to improve since.
The receiver has spent the summer working on bulking up and improving route-running skills. He attended Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's three-day camp in June and the Razorbacks' one-day camp over the weekend.
"I've talked to (Arkansas running backs) Coach (Tim) Horton and things are going good and the coaches seem to like me a lot," Harris said. "The last couple of camps I've come up and produced and done well.
"Recruiting is just kicking off and getting going. I'm doing good at my camps so hopefully that'll lead to some more offers."
Harris has received scholarship offers from Missouri State, Missouri Southern and Henderson State, and interest from the Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas and Tulsa – a school Harris said could offer in the future.
"I just left Tulsa (two weeks ago) and they seemed to like me a lot," Harris said. "They're only going to sign two receivers and have had two commit, but they said if someone decommits or have a kid that transfers then they'll probably offer."
Harris ran a 4.5, 40-yard dash at the Southwest Elite Combine in May. While impressive for a kid with his length, Harris said he outdoes that number when the lights come on.
"(Pine Bluff cornerback Kelsey) Collins ran 4.28 at the combine – laser time – and when we go one-on-one I outrun him every time. My game speed is just a lot faster than my 40 speed. My strengths are catching the ball and getting open. I get good separation.
"In a Spread offense it showcases the receivers and then we're probably about 75 to 80 percent pass. Especially this year we'll have the top receivers in the state, no doubt. We'll throw the ball a lot and that system can take an average player and turn him into a great player. It's just a great program for skill players."
The Bulldogs – a consensus preseason No. 1 pick in the Class 5A – play a difficult nonconference schedule this season with match-ups at Class 7A's top-ranked Springdale Har-Ber and with the top-ranked team in the Class 4A, Shiloh Christian. With next-level talent on all three programs, the games are sure to attract recruiters and Jones said that could benefit Harris more than anyone.
"It's interesting because when people watch him in person they really like him," Jones said. "He is so smooth and his hands are fantastic. He just has the nicest and softest hands. When people see that in person it's so much different than watching a wide receiver on film because you know this guy can really catch the ball. He'll have a great year and I think he'll have quite a few options before it's all said and done."
The next big thing
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