Recruits ready to meet new coach

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Austin Allen was named MVP of the Class 7A State Championship Game.
Photo by Samantha Baker
Austin Allen was named MVP of the Class 7A State Championship Game.

— The hiring of Bret Bielema as Arkansas’ head football coach was a surprise to several of the Razorbacks’ oral commitments and drew a mixed reaction.

Forrest City defensive end Tevin Beanum said he did some research on Bielema after hearing the news and likes his defensive background.

“The one thing that stands out to me about an article was the fact he was a defensive coordinator for about four years before he became head coach,” Beanum said. “That stood out to me. We’ve always had a great offense, so that’s what stands out to me. Of course, that gives me hope with me being a defensive player.”

Cornerback Carroll Washington of Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell College said he knew of Bielema’s success at Wisconsin but wants to get to know him and find out his plans for him.

“I’m eager to meet the coach,” Washington said. “I really don’t know who he is, so it’s big for me to get his number so I can call him and see what’s on his mind and see how he’s feeling about the whole situation. The primary question is, does he want me? That’s my No. 1 question.”

Linebacker Myke Tavarres of College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., said he was caught off guard by the hiring.

“I was surprised, really. I’ve heard all these other names,” Tavarres said. “He’s a good coach. ... and he’s had decent seasons the past few years.”

Tavarres said he is anxious to meet Bielema and see where he stands with the coach, but he doesn’t know what to think about Bielema yet.

“I’m still kind of neutral because I still have a lot of other stuff going on,” Tavarres said. “I have to take my Boise State trip this weekend, and then I have finals coming up.”

Quarterbacks Tyler Cogswell of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage and Austin Allen of Fayetteville committed to Arkansas when the Hogs featured a more wideopen offense, but they said they are still happy with the hire and are looking forward to meeting Bielema.

“I’m pretty excited,” Cogswell said. “I know he’s had a lot of success at Wisconsin. I feel like I could relate to the offense. I just want to get up to meet him and see who the new [offensive coordinator] will be.”

Allen said he believes Bielema is a great coach and a proven winner, with the Badgers heading to their third consecutive appearance in the Rose Bowl.

Allen admits that Bielema’s offense is “a little bit different” from what he was expecting when he committed to former Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, but he pointed out that Bielema coached current Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson for a season.

“You see where he had Russell Wilson and how well Russell Wilson is doing,” said Allen, who led Fayetteville to its second consecutive Class 7A state title Saturday. “The offense is more like an Alabama style offense of running it and then passing it when you have to, but I think it will be all right.”

Wisconsin’s reputation for having big offensive linemen is what came to mind when offensive guard John McClure of Butler County (Kan.) Community College heard the news.

“I think he’s a great coach,” said McClure, noting Wisconsin’s 70-31 victory over Nebraska on Saturday night in the Big Ten Championship Game. “I’m actually excited about it. I know he has a lot of big guys at Wisconsin.

“I really haven’t been able to watch Wisconsin that much. I don’t know what they run.”

Arkansas’ newest commitment, athlete Drew Morgan of Greenwood, said he is ready to play for Bielema.

“I’m all in, I’ll tell you that right now,” said Morgan, who switched his commitment from Arkansas State to Arkansas on Monday. “I’m excited about where we’re going and which direction we’re headed.

“I think the only direction we have with this coach is up.”

Sports, Pages 22 on 12/05/2012