Hogs Add Defensive Beef

Byran Jones and Alan Turner gave the Hogs the in-state stars they needed and there was a late push from Oklahoma to headline Bobby Petrino's recruiting haul. There is plenty of defensive help in the class of 25 players signed by the Hogs on Wednesday.

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino made no secret that the 2010 class needed to be about getting defensive playmakers to match the ones on the offensive side of the ball.

The Razorbacks did just that in a big way on Wednesday's national signing date by landing highly-regarded defensive tackles Byran Jones (6-2, 310) of Junction City and Calvin Barnett (6-3, 330) of Tulsa as well as stealing linebacker Jarrett Lake (6-3, 215) of Jenks away from Oklahoma on the final day.

That means that along with the additions of defensive ends Chris Smith (6-2, 231) of North Carolina, LaCraig Brown (6-4, 270) of Louisiana and swingman Jeremiah Jackson (6-3, 265) of Alabama that the UA had quite the haul.

"First and foremost what we were looking for was some defensive linemen," Petrino said. "They are always the hardest guys to find, they are very, very important in this (SEC) Conference. You have to be able to have big physical defensive lineman that help you stop the run and can put pressure on the quarterback. That was an area that we worked hard at, I thought we identified guys that could really help us there and then we closed very strongly in the defensive front."

Those defensive playmakers were part of a class of 25 announced by Arkansas on Wednesday with six of those players making up their minds in the last 24 hours before signing period.

The Razorbacks also added Prague (OK) offensive lineman Denton Simek, Florida prep wideout Jevontee Herndon (6-1, 185) and Junction City safety Alan Turner (5-11, 180) in the final hours. Simek had been a Texas Tech commitment until the Red Raiders fired their head coach.

It added up to a haul that was ranked No. 36 by Scout.com, but a collection that Petrino thought was his best at the school.

"We feel as good about this class as any of the three that we signed," Petrino said. "I think we really identified what we needed, went out and worked hard at it and battled to the end and did a nice job."

Jones and Turner both made up their minds late to become Razorbacks.

"They were a lot of work," Petrino said of the two Junction City stars. "They never gave us an indication until the last two days. There were a lot of places they could have gone. To get them signed was huge.

"But they were always great in the process. I think Byran is a special player. He's as good as anyone we've signed. Alan is a winner. We got to see what drives him and he can play on either side of the ball.

"Obviously, we are very excited about Byran Jones. He is a great football player. The fun thing about watching him, he never seemed to come off the field. He played offense, defense and he kicked. We think he will contribute right away, a lot like Dede Jones did. He's special.

"The staff put a lot of energy from the entire staff into recruiting them."

Barnett – a four-star prospect per Scout.com and a U.S. Army All American - made Arkansas fans happy and left Oklahoma State fans fuming by flipping from the Cowboys at his announcement.

"He was a guy that we competed hard for and it came down to the last day and we are very, very happy to have Calvin with us."

There's also another jumbo athlete – rated as one of the nation's best defensive tackles - in Jatashun Beachum (6-2, 280) of Dallas A. Maceo Smith, whose nickname is "Big Tex." He actually played quarterback.

"He is a very, very good football player," Petrino said. "He wants to start off at running back. We see him as a running back, but he might grow out of that. If he grows out of it, he has the ability to play linebacker, defensive end, could possibly be a H-back, tight end.

It certainly was a big haul in Oklahoma with Razorback offensive coordinator Garrick McGee certainly earning his pay.

Arkansas signed five players out of Oklahoma.

Getting Lake out of the Oklahoma class was a big addition.

"Coach McGee did a great job with him, getting him to turn (to Arkansas)," Petrino said. "We were on the phone it seemed all night.

"It's an interesting story. He played wide receiver as a junior but when we got him in camp we asked if he would like to try linebacker. We had seen him run around and elevate at wide receiver. He was just a natural in camp. He had instinct and movement."

Petrino made it clear that Arkansas looks at several different things other than just talent while evaluating the class.

"When we go out and recruit, we basically look at three areas," Petrino said. "Number one is character, attitude and intelligence. Those three things are very important to us and one of the things that we really value is how those three things add up in every guy we recruit.

"The second area is what we call the measureables – their physical size, strength, speed and agility," Petrino added. "That is something that we look into – whether they are the size that we want, whether they are the height that we want, the weight that we wan, the length that we want, the speed that we want.

"…Then the third part is basically their football skill, football instinct and athletic intuition – how do they play the game," Petrino continued. "Those are the three areas that we look at."

Speed and versatility were certainly areas that Petrino wanted to add to his team.

"Speed, versatility and athleticism," Petrino said. "We wanted to recruit guys that had the ability to play different positions. That is one of the things that is hard when you go out and recruit high school players – how is he going to play on defense. Because most of the plays that you see are the ones he makes on offense."

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said, "It was like Christmas day. Obviously, we like the size and athletic ability in this group. There is also great potential to grow. I think we will add weight to this group. But you see the size already. There is help up front with four or five defensive lineman.

"It's of huge importance to see what we've added. When we take the field I think our guys are going to look like their guys now. I think our guys at linebacker and in the secondary are going to get more help up front with this class and that's going to help them."

Chris Smith might be the best athlete in the class. A quick defensive end, he was the fastest player on his high school team. Petrino said that is of note because there are wide receivers on that squad drawing Division I interest.

"His high school coaches told us that and that was very, very impressive," Petrino said. "He's going to be a special player. His speed off the edge is really going to help our pass rush."

New defensive end coach Steve Caldwell said, "He's got a great first step. He was picked as MVP of the Shrine Bowl. He's very exciting. He reminds me of some players I had at Tennessee who are in the NFL now. We've got some others in this class with the ability to play defensive end."

Bobby Petrino introduced his 2010 class.

Willy Robinson told the media it was like Christmas day.

Garrick McGee gave the Hogs a big boost from Oklahoma.

New Arkansas coaches Cris Cinkovich, Kris Klenakis and Steve Caldwell.

Photos by Marc F. Henning

Arkansas Football Class of 2010

Calvin Barnett, DT, FR, 6-3, 330, Tulsa, Okla. (Booker T. Washington HS)

Jatashun Beachum, ATH/RB, FR, 6-1, 270, Dallas, Texas (A. Maceo Smith HS)

Eric Bennett, ATH, FR, 5-11, 180, Tulsa, Okla. (Booker T. Washington HS)

LaCraig Brown, DE, FR, 6-4, 288, Monroe, La. (Richwood HS)

Eduardo Camara, K, FR, 5-8, 160, Cedar Hill, Texas (Cedar Hill HS)

Daunte Carr, S, FR, 6-2, 195, Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville HS)

Luke Charpentier, OT, FR, 6-4, 315, River Ridge, La. (John Curtis Christian)

Cam Feldt, OG, FR, 6-4, 295, Pilot Point, Texas (Pilot Point HS)

Courtney Gaston, LB, FR, 6-5, 225, Ft. Gibson, Okla. (Ft. Gibson HS)

Brad Hefley, TE, FR, 6-4, 250, Joplin, Mo. (Joplin Senior HS)

Javontee Herndon, FR, WR, 6-1, 185, Jacksonville, Fla. (The Bolles School)

Zach Hocker, K/P, FR, 6-0, 170, Russellville, Ark. (Russellville HS)

Julian Horton, WR, FR, 6-1, 194, Norcross, Ga. (Greater Atlanta Christian School)

Maudrecus Humphrey, WR, FR, 6-3, 185, Hoover, Ala. (Hoover HS)

Jeremiah Jackson, DT, FR, 6-3, 260, Hoover, Ala. (Spain Park HS)

Byran Jones, DT, FR, 6-2, 310, Junction City, Ark. (Junction City HS)

Jarrett Lake, ATH, FR, 6-3, 220, Jenks, Okla. (Jenks HS)

Braylon Mitchell, RB/LB, FR, 6-2, 225, Heber Springs, Ark. (Heber Springs HS)

Denton Simek, OL, FR, 6-6, 285, Prague, Okla. (Prague HS)

Chris Smith, DE, FR, 6-2, 230, Mount Ulla, N.C. (West Rowan HS)

Darrell Smith, ATH, FR, 6-3, 190, Port St. Joe, Fla. (Port St. Joe HS)

Alan Turner, ATH, FR, 6-0, 185, Junction City, Ark. (Junction City HS)

Garrett Uekman, TE, FR, 6-4, 241, Little Rock, Ark. (Catholic HS)

Marquel Wade, WR, FR, 5-11, 180, Jacksonville, Fla. (Andrew Jackson HS)

*Jacoby Walker, QB, FR, 6-2, 197, Houston, Texas (Westfield HS)

*- Enrolled in January of 2010

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