Difference Makers

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson looks at how the Razorback football staff has hit the road this week to try and land some difference makers such as Butler County CC defensive end Scott Smith (6-7, 270, 4.6), the Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year. This story is free and sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner.

Not that the regular season is over, there's a break in practice and the bowl destination seems all locked into Memphis, Bobby Petrino's University of Arkansas football coaching staff has hit the road recruiting with a vengence.

While there will be no official visitors to Fayetteville this upcoming weekend, the Razorbacks coaches have and will continue to be spread out over their recruitng areas of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and so on.

There can be seven coaches on the road - a place which they got to on Sunday and will continue through on Saturday when they will see a couple of Arkansas state championship games in Little Rock as well as games at several other venues.

"I think one of the main reasons that we decided not to bring anybody in this weekend is that there are a lot of guys still playing and with our coaches being able to be out on the road that gives them a chance to see these guys play," noted Dean Campbell, Arkansas' Director of High School Relations. "It also gives us a chance to touch base with the guys we have committed. We will be at several high school games on Friday and Saturday and we also have some of our junior college prospects who are playing in bowls. We are able to rotate seven coaches on the road and Coach Petrino will be one of those and out several days."

Right now Arkansas is scheduled to host recruits on the weekend of Dec. 11-13, and could also host them on Dec. 18-20, Jan. 8-10, Jan. 15-17, Jan. 22-24 and Jan. 29-31 as needed.

"One of the other things the coaches are able to do while on the road this week is get the visits set up and get wth the parents and give them a chance to plan ahead and buy a reasonably priced ticket if they choose to come visit with the program with the prospect," Campbell said. "I can tell you that I expect the biggest weekend to be that January 15th one when there is a home basketball game with Alabama and the students will be back in school."

Arkansas, which had 14 solid commits and a soft one from Alabama prep defender Dimitri Orr, will sign somewhere around 18-20 in this 2010 recruiting class.

"That's the number that Coach Petrino has talked about and seems to be where we are headed," Campbell said. "Since we really only have a few spots left in that 2010 class s we are also able to get a jump on spring recruiting by seeing juniors while we are out this week. That's a big plus."

There will certainly be some prospects in Fayetteville a week from Friday, in part because the mid-term National Junior College signing period opens on Dec. 16.

"We have at least five seniors and maybe more that will be graduating at semester so that opens up some spots to bring in mid-term guys," Campbell said. "We are looking at a couple of junior college guys and there are some high school kids that have even talked about coming in early. We'll just see how that works out."

There is one big difference when it relates to numbers this time around. None of the mid-term guys can be counted back to last season's class as was the case of running backs Broderick Green and Knile Davis when they enrolled at mid-term.

"Everything must go forward this time because we used all of our scholarships that could for the 2009 class," Campbell said.

One coveted prospect due in on the Dec.11-13 weekend is Bulter County Community College defensive end Scott Smith (6-7, 270,4.6), a Hawaii native who originally signed with California.

He was named the Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year after a phenomenal 2009 campaign in which he had 74 tackles, 24.5 stops for lost yardage, 14 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 fumble caused and 2 pass break-ups.

Smith has already visited Texas Tech, has the visit to Arkansas set and may also visit South Florida.

"You've got to get those mid-term junior college players in that weekend because there is a dead period that comes along on Dec. 20 and lasts through Jan. 4.," Campbell said."There is another dead period on Jan. 1013 when the American Football Coaches Association Convention is held. We could have some kids in on that January 8th through 10th weekend if we need to. It's great that we have four weekends in January to work with this year."

Another difference in recruiting this time around is that the recruits who come in during December will get a chance to see the Razorbacks go through bowl practices.

"I think that is going to be big," Campbell said. "A lot of kids only get to see us practice during the spring, but this will be a great opportunity to show them just how we get after it in practice and prepare to go out and be a winner."

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