Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
THE RECRUITING GUY: Razorbacks’ camp pulls in talented Orlando pair
LITTLE ROCK Arkansas is expected to host some of the top recruits in the nation during Saturday’s junior/senior prospects camp.
Two seniors, athlete LaQuentin Smith and safety Roderick Ryles of Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips, will arrive in Fayetteville shortly after noon for a visit Friday and will participate in the camp.
Smith, 6-1, 210 pounds, 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash, reports 14 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, South Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois and South Carolina. He said Arkansas graduate assistant Marty Biagi told him to bring his “A-game.”
“He said there’s going to be a lot of receivers there,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to the competition and see how everything is in Fayetteville and see if I like it.”
Should he like what he sees, Smith said he could make an oral commitment to the Razorbacks.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Smith said. “Me and Rod have been talking about that ever since they offered us. We talked about it a lot when we were in Oregon for the national 7-on-7.”
Smith, who recorded 97 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 1 interception at strong safety, wants to see Arkansas’ campus, academic center and weight room.
“I heard Arkansas has the best facilities in the SEC,” he said.
He said he and Biagi have a solid relationship.
“Coach Biagi is a cool cat,” Smith said. “He said any time I need to call, to just call him and he’ll be by the phone. He keeps me updated on what’s going on in recruiting and tells me how bad they want me up there to see all of the coaches and the facilities.”
Ryles, 6-1, 185, 4.58, has eight scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Colorado State, Michigan State, South Florida, Central Florida and Utah.
A phone call from Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino during the spring evaluation period scored big with Ryles.
“Coach Petrino has shown a lot of interest,” Ryles said. “He’s the only head coach I’ve talked to, and he really wants us to come up there. Arkansas has shown a lot of interest, and I can’t wait to come up there.”
Ryles, who said he might commit if he enjoys his visit, likes Petrino’s reputation of playing true freshmen.
“I don’t like being on the sideline,” said Ryles, who recorded 84 tackles, 7 interceptions, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 sack last year. “I like being in the game.”
UA NEALY’S NO. 1
All-purpose back DeVondrick Nealy of Monticello (Fla.) Jefferson County is another senior prospect who will attend the camp.
Nealy, 5-9, 175, 4.5, claims 20 offers but rates Arkansas his No. 1 school, followed by Ole Miss, Auburn, Iowa State and Michigan.
Nealy said he and Arkansas receivers coach Kris Cinkovich have a “close relationship” and he could see himself playing for him.
“I called him, and he answered all of my questions,” Nealy said. “From that moment on, I knew then it would probably be a good decision for me to go to Arkansas because I knew everything I needed to know about the school and he was a good person to talk to.”
A terror in the open field, Nealy rushed 211 times for 1,904 yards and 21 touchdowns while having 24 receptions for 211 yards and 4 touchdowns as a junior.
“No one can tackle me in the open field,” Nealy said. “If I see two people, I’m going to look at the person closest to the end zone. I’m not looking at the closest to me because he’s just not a factor when I’m running.”
WR GOING WITH FLOW
Receiver Derek Edwards of Brenham, Texas, won’t be traveling to Fayetteville on Saturday, but he does plan to make an official visit to Arkansas.
Edwards, 6-2, 172, 4.38, has about 14 offers, including Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Texas A&M and Houston. He’s made an oral commitment to Texas Tech.
Edwards said offensive line coach Chris Klenakis has done a good job of keeping him informed about the Hogs.
“He told me they had the most passing yards in the SEC,” Edwards said. “I did see that they have some very good receivers there right now. Plus they’re in the SEC. I love the Big 12 and the Pac-10, but the SEC is the toughest conference and that’s bottom line. If I’m in the best passing offense and I’m in the SEC, that’s kind of a 2-for-1 deal.”
Edwards caught 62 passes for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns and returned one kickoff for a score last year. He said he also plans to make official visits to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State with Texas A&M as a possibility while trying to decide on a fifth.
“Ultimately, I’m going to make the choice that’s best for me,” Edwards said. “Right now, I’m a Red Raider, an open-minded Red Raider, and I’m just going to go with the flow.”
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports, Pages 19 on 07/13/2010