The Next Step

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson talks about what the future might hold as Arkansas' football program moves forward after the firing of Bobby Petrino. This story is free and sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers.

Just like another BP mess of a few years ago, this one is all about the clean up and what happens from here on out.

Unlike British Petroleum's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, Arkansas does not have a few years to get it right with their replacement for Bobby Petrino.

That's not to say it has to be a quick hire. Most of all, it has to be the right hire - the right fit and someone who will bring character and integrity to the post.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long won Petrino's out-of-here press conference, but that will be forgotten if he doesn't win the here's-who's-next press conference.

Both of Arkansas' 2013 commitments – Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch tailback Jamel James and Manvel (Texas) High wide receiver Austin Bennett have already de-committed.

Bennett (6-0, 170) did so just minutes after Long's announcement that he was terminating Petrino with just cause.

"We have talked as a family and have decided to take a step back," Bennett said. "I am going to decommit from Arkansas. I don't feel I can stay committed to the program when the coach who offered me is no longer there."

James (6-0, 210) – who had committed back last July - did so via twitter on Thursday.

"Even though I have decommitted I still love Arkansas yall showed me so much love and respect that #WPS".

James' twitter background is still that of the Arkansas Razorback mascot.

James rushed for 1,179 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore and then had 1,011 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior.

Another prospect that Arkansas is on is defensive end Jamone Boyd (6-4, 245) of Lee's Summitt (MO) West.

Interesting, he said he would still be interested in Arkansas if Petrino's brother was kept on staff.

"I've never really talked to coach Petrino," Boyd told "I've been talking to Paul Petrino, so as long as he's still there I am good. I'm still liking Arkansas."

Obviously attention has also turned to the 2012 signees – all of who have had their world rocked.

But most have said or tweeted that they are still planning on being future Razorbacks.

"I have been hitting the weights hard. I will be playing wide receiver and will do what I can to help my team out," Hawkins said. "I'm really anxious to see what coach is brought in next. I have met several guys from this (2012) class and there is a good chemistry with us. I look forward to working with the guys there and just getting better.

"I'm ready and I'm 100 percent Hog."

If any do decide to transfer, there is a process that they will have go to through beginning with the student-athlete initiating the process and Arkansas then having 30 days to grant or deny the release.

Arkansas will finish up its last week of spring practice next week and then spend four weeks on the road recruiting during an evaluation period.

Head coaches are not allowed out during that time – something that ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill pointed out on air Thursday.

"The one saving grace they have is head coaches are not allowed on the road during the evaluation period," Luginbill said. "So whether Arkansas doesn't have one and everybody else does, at least that person can't be on the road and getting an advantage over Arkansas at this time."

Jamel James

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