North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding knew that the current Arkansas football staff faced a rebuilding effort when it arrived to take over the Razorbacks.
But it part because Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema landed in-state standout K.J. Hill (6-3, 190, 4.4) – Bolding's four-star wide receiver – Bolding believes the climb uphill is well underway.
He lauded the Razorback staff in the way they have recruited his top players the last three years – landing tailback Juan Day and Hill while Altee Tenpenny chose Alabama.
“I have seen a little bit of everything that comes through over the years with Tenpenny, Juan and now K.J.,” Bolding said. “I have seen good and bad in recruiting. Arkansas is up there with the best that I have seen and I don't say that for just brownie points. I am friends with Coach Bielema and that staff, but I am a straight shooter and I tell you the truth and they do a heck of a job. They go above and beyond and they work their tails off.
“When they came in, they knew had a battle to climb up hill and man they are climbing fast,” Bolding said. “It takes some time with what they are doing. They had a totally different type of player when they came in than what they are needing so Arkansas fans just need to be patient because it is coming and people are going to be excited about it.”
Hill became the Razorbacks' 12th pledge of the 2015 recruiting class when he chose Arkansas Friday over Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and Oregon and a host of others.
Bolding was pleased with the decision and its timing.
“I have always tried to encourage all my players that were high-profile kids to try and do it before the season because we are all about the team,” Bolding said. “It kind of becomes a distraction for us. Altee had done it and K.J decided to do it. He was going to do it on his birthday (Sept. 15) and then changed his mind and I'm glad he did. I think that shows his maturity and I am ecstatic for Coach Bielema and the Razorbacks.”
Although Hill will still take five official visits, Bolding is certain Hill will end up at Arkansas and is glad to have the sideshow out of the way.
“I really am,” Bolding said. “We can really focus on our season and what he is going to bring to the table for us this season. This season is going to be an exciting year for us and we can really focus o the things that we have been talking about – our goals – since January to become the team that we are capable of becoming."
Hill had 83 catches for over 1,200 yards last season and 20 touchdowns and also find the end zone six other times while piling up over 2,000 all-purpose yards.
“He is going to be the go-to guy (at Arkansas),” Bolding said. “I have told many people that the number of college coaches that came through this year – which are some of the best in the country obviously – I had five, and these are top 20 teams, that told me that he was the best receiver on film in the country...I think that says a lot about him. They are going to get him the ball in a lot of different ways, kind of like how we are now.”
But what Bolding thinks sets Hill apart is his mental approach.
“He is a very big-time student of the game and I think that is what sets him apart,” Bolding said. “He is all the time wanting to improve himself as a receiver as far as route-running goes, studying the secondary – he is just on a different level when it comes to that. Typically high school kids don't look at the game like that. It's usually about catching and scoring touchdowns. We know he can do that and he is an SEC player. He studies, he does a lot of film study and really works on route-running and how to attack different coverages.”
Bolding also lauded the young man's character.
“Unbelievable,” Bolding said. “His work ethic is great. The way we run our system, the undisciplined kids, the kids that don't want to work, don't make it. So for him to come in and raise his game to what we are doing already, that says a lot about his work ethic, his discipline and like I said I think you can see that when it comes to the football aspect of it, he studies the game, he goes to trainers on the side – J.J. Meadors being one – he is just a different breed.”
Bolding believes Hill's decision will have an impact on other recruits for the University of Arkansas.
“You have got to remember that the kid was in the finals at The Opening and SPARQ National Championship and in the 7-on-7 so the connections he has with kids that he stays in contact with are some of the top in the country. Any of those Arkansas is recruiting, he probably either knows them or they know each other somehow. That is going to help Arkansas big-time.”
K.J. Hill made his announcement at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inside Verizon Arena.
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