Skinner hopes to continue TE success

Arkansas commit Deondre Skinner looks up to former Arkansas tight end and Mackey award winner D.J. Williams and hopes to continue the recent trend of playmakers Arkansas has had at tight end.

Even though Patterson, La., native Deondre Skinner has an offer from LSU, the senior says he remains firm in his commitment to the Razorbacks.

Skinner endured Arkansas' 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama as one of the many recruits on campus, but he said he still enjoyed being back in Fayetteville.

"I loved it," Skinner said. "It was fun. The environment there was pretty good from the tailgating to the game itself. The loss wasn't too good, but it was fun and I loved it.

"(The Stadium) was packed and I wasn't expecting it to be that full in the rain. They love football in Fayetteville and I like that. There were a lot of people out there."

Two weekends ago, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound tight end was in Baton Rouge, La., to see LSU play. He said while he enjoyed the visit, he knew he the Bayou Bengals were not a good fit for him.

"I went to LSU's game against Washington and they don't really involve the tight end in their offense," Skinner said. "In the first three games, their tight end (Chase Clement) only has one catch and I can't see myself playing in that kind of offense."

Arkansas' extensive use of tight ends is part of what drew Skinner to the Razorbacks and he said he continues to feel comfortable with the involvement he could see in the offense.

"When I went to the game, I saw that they really use their tight ends a lot," Skinner said. "When Tyler Wilson plays, I know he throws to his tight end, but then Brandon Allen was playing on Saturday and he liked to throw to the tight end, too, so I think Arkansas is a team where I can come in and do my thing and do my best to help lead them to a national championship.

"I'm always going to be committed to the Razorbacks unless another coach comes in and doesn't use the tight end much. That would be the only thing that might change my decision."

While fellow tight end Hunter Henry committed to Arkansas recently as well, Skinner said he is not worried about any possibility of losing playing time to him. More and more teams are using multiple tight ends, just as the New England Patriots have recently shown with the success of both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, even though the latter suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday.

"In that (New England) offense, both players are really good talents and high-caliber tight ends so I think once the coaches see us play together and see what we can do, we'll have a pretty good chance of playing together as two tight ends in the game and making something happen," Skinner said.

Arkansas' recent success at tight end only reassures Skinner's belief. D.J. Williams led the Razorbacks in receptions in 2008 and 2010 and won the Mackey Award in 2010 as well. Through the first three games so far this season, Chris Gragg leads the team in receptions (17), yards (226) and touchdowns (two).

"I see Chris Gragg catch the ball a lot and I'm hopeful that I can get the ball a lot, too," Skinner said. "I see how well he and D.J. Williams have been there and I think I have a chance to do the same thing.

"D.J. was a really, really athletic tight end. He made moves in open space, he had great hands and he was good off his blocks. He was amazing and that's why he made it to the next level. I really look up to D.J. and I hope I play similarly to him when I go to Arkansas and get that chance to play in the NFL like he is."

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