UA coach makes good impression on linebacker

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, December 7, 2012
Bret Bielema speaks Wednesday during a news conference to announce his hire as the University of Arkansas’ football coach at the Broyles Athletic Complex on the university’s campus in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Bret Bielema speaks Wednesday during a news conference to announce his hire as the University of Arkansas’ football coach at the Broyles Athletic Complex on the university’s campus in Fayetteville.

— Junior college linebacker Myke Tavarres, who is orally committed to Arkansas, voiced concern Tuesday about being unfamiliar with new Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema, but he felt much better about him after receiving a call from Bielema on Wednesday.

“It went extremely well,” Tavarres said. “He just wanted to know me as a person and then we talked about football. He wanted to know if Arka n sa s wa s still in the running, and I told him indeed they definitely were. I just have to take this last visit and figure out things from there.”

Tavarres, 6-2 1/2, 215 pounds, 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, plays for College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., and plans to take an official visit to Boise State this weekend and make a final decision in a few weeks. He officially visited Arkansas during the summer and recently visited Arizona.

Tavarres recorded 85 tackles, 12 1/2 tackles for loss, 2 1/2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 5 pass breakups, recovered 2 fumbles and forced 1 fumble this season.

He said Bielema told him about his defensive background and said he planned to visit him next week.

“He talked about how he would work a little bit with me at either inside or outside linebacker position,” said Tavarres, who plans to enroll in January at whichever school he chooses. “He also talked about what he liked of me on film. He also mentioned he felt like I loved the game and he could definitely see it while I was playing.”


Two Wisconsin commitments, linebacker Garret Dooley of Rochester, Ill., and cornerback Sojourn Shelton of Plantation, Fla., said they are disappointed to see Bret Bielema leave Wisconsin, but their respect for Arkansas’ new head coach is evident.

“He’s a great guy,” Dooley said. “I talked to him a whole lot. We have a lot in common. He played linebacker, and we’re able to connect really well even though he is the head coach. He’s a big part of the offense. He’s also a big part of the defense. I know he really connected with his players really well and it showed.

“He’s a great guy, and he’s definitely a big part of why I chose Wisconsin.”

Dooley, 6-2, 220, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said he was shocked when he heard Bielema was headed to Arkansas.

“I was really looking forward to being coached by him through my college years, but it was a great opportunity for him and I wish him the best of luck,” Dooley said. “It’s just a little bit of a bummer to hear that now.”

Bielema was well-regarded in Wisconsin, Dooley said.

“Everyone really loves him,” Dooley said. “He’s great coach. He’s brought a lot of success to Wisconsin over the years. I haven’t heard a single bad thing about him. He’ll fit in anywhere he goes.”

Dooley rarely came off the field during his past two seasons and his senior stats reflect that. He had 131 tackles, 15 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries, and on offense he had 203 carries for 1,456 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Dooley said he could be interested in the Hogs if members of the Wisconsin staff join Bielema in Fayetteville.

“At this point and time, my heart is still set with Wisconsin,” Dooley said. “But if anything else changes it definitely could change things, but it depends on what happens”

Shelton, 5-10, 160, 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, was taken aback by Bielema’s departure but understands that Bielema had to do what he believes is best for him and his family.

“I mean, great man,” Shelton said. “He definitely has my respect. I’m just a little disappointed that’s not going to be the guy I’ll be able to come to every day in practice or at the school.”

Shelton said he is pretty set on going to Wisconsin unless there is a staff shakeup in Madison.

“The head coach is someone that’s very important to a player, but also you spend so much time with your position coach and your strength-andconditioning coach,” Shelton said. “As of now, those guys are going to be there.

“If anything did change and they go to Arkansas, then that would be a situation I would look at.”

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports, Pages 24 on 12/07/2012