Rain Doesn't Stop FCA Combine

Several prospects considering Vanderbilt performed at this weekend's FCA Combine in Little Rock, Ark. <P> Reginald Arnold dazzled with a low 40-yard dash at the FCA combine in Little Rock. It may have rained, but it was still a good day to recruit.

LITTLE ROCK - A little rain never hurt recruiting.

That seemed to be the case Saturday morning as University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt and three of his Razorback assistants were part of the numerous gird coaches on hand for the rain-drenched FCA combine at Little Rock's Memorial Stadium.

The seventh annual FCA combine, which began at 7:30 a.m. with registration and endured rain throughout the four-hour affair, was an invitation-only event for the state of Arkansas' top underclassman prep players.

"This is just a wonderful event, something guys back in my time had to drive all the way to Oklahoma State to be part of," noted guest speaker and former NFL standout Keith Jackson. "Now these kids get a chance to be seen not only by the UA's coaches but by many other coaches and that gives them more opportunties."

UA assistants Danny Nutt, Chris Vaughn, Roy Wittke and Clifton Ealy and coaches from Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe and the state's Division II were all on hand.

They saw the prospects go through stations that included 40-yard dashes, the bench press, the shuttle drill and other tests.

While the rain and wet surface held down most 40-yard dash times, Little Rock McClellan running back Reginald Arnold (5-11, 220) blazed to a 4.38 time in one of his tries.

"I got a great start and just put the rain out of my mind and ran as hard as I could to the finish line," Arnold said. "It's just mind over matter."

That time shouldn't hurt him at all with schools that are currently contacted him such as Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Although the rain, AAU basketball and a Nike out-of-state combine that held down the participants to under the 300 invited, there were several other recruits the Razorbacks appear to be interested in.

That group includes Dumas' Robert Mingo (6-3, 180), Pulaski Academy safety Trevor Gillett (6-3, 205), El Dorado wideout Brandon Payne (6-2, 175), Little Rock Mills safety Elston Forte (6-1, 180), Little Rock Central defensive end Charles Alexander (6-2, 230), East Poinsett County offensive lineman Eric Evans (6-5, 300) and El Dorado Westside Christian speedster Brandon Ford (6-1, 185).

Mingo is an offensive dynamo that played quarterback, tailback and receiver last season, but may project on the other side of the ball in college.

That's because he is also a hard-hitting safety with majors such as Arkansas, Tennessee , Mississippi State and Iowa recruiting him.

"I am going to attend Arkansas' camp in Fayetteville, Tennessee's camp and play 7-on-7 this summer," Mingo said.

"I like Arkansas," Mingo continued. "If I had to choose right now I would probably go to Arkansas."

Gillott was described as one observer as a Tony Bua-type player with more size.

He moved from California when he was seven and is getting mail from schools such as Arkansas and West Coast programs such as Stanford and USC as well as Ivy league schools such as Harvard.

Gillott will attend camps at Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Stanford and one run by New York Jets coach Herman Edwards.

"Arkansas is the one that is sending me the most mail out of any of the colleges and recruiting me the hardest," Gillott said. "It's a honor that all these school are interested in me."

Forte, who will likely camp at Arkansas, Penn State and Tennessee this summer, has a plethora of schools that are recruiting him.

"Arkansas is close to home and I am getting recruited by them and like them," Forte said, "but I am also hearing from Auburn, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Penn State, Ole Miss, Michigan and UCLA, Tulsa, Duke, Colorado and Florida."

Payne, the half-brother of current UA basketball standout Joanthon "Pookie" Modica, is hearing from Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Northwestern, Louisiana Tech and Memphis.

"There is no doubt who the favorite is in that bunch - it's Arkansas," Payne said. "I was up there last weekend with Pookie. We have a great relationship and it's good to have someone who has gone through this before."

Modica and Payne have the same mother and Payne says he doesn't mind being Jomathon's little brother.

"Some people say the only reason I am getting recognized is because of my brother," Payne said. "All I have to say to that is I will take it however I can. I know that once I get the attention I have to do something to earn it then."

Evans is planning a busy summer by attending camps at Arkansas, Memphis, Auburn and Ole Miss for sure.

"I really like Arkansas and they would be my leader, especially since (former EPC basketball and football standout) Marcus Monk is going up there and because it's my home state," Evans said. "But I am going to go around this summer and take a look at a lot of the."

Ford was not sure of his best 40 time on Saturday, but said he has posted a 4.29 before.

Regardless of just how low he has gone, it's clear he is a speedster that will soon be without a school.

"They are shutting our school down with consolidation, but I am not real sure what is going to happen and where I am going to end up," Ford said. "I do like Arkansas and I am getting letters from them and some other schools."

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