Arkansas back in running for Texas speedster

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Jamel James
Jamel James

— The hiring of Bret Bielema as Arkansas’ head coach has Notre Dame running back commitment Jamel James very interested in Arkansas.

James, 5-11, 218 pounds, 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch high school orally committed to Arkansas during the summer of 2011 but reopened his recruiting shortly after the firing of Bobby Petrino as the Hogs’ coach.

“I was really interested in Coach B’s program when he was at Wisconsin,” James said. “I still have a passion for Arkansas. That’s the first school I committed to, and that was my first home, and it would just be amazing to go back home and be an Arkansas Razorback.”

James, rated as a 4-star recruit by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, officially visited the Fighting Irish for the Michigan game Sept. 22. He said he plans to visit Arizona State this weekend.

James said his relationship with his lead recruiter, offensive line coach Chris Klenakis is still strong.

“Coach K touched my heart ever since the first day I talked to him in person,” said James, who hopes to set up an official visit to Arkansas soon. “Coach K and I just gradually built up a relationship. It hadn’t gone away, It’s still in place, and I still feel the love and passion that Coach K gives off.”


Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and assistant coach Bobby Allen made an in home visit with junior-college offensive lineman Johnathan McClure, an Arkansas commitment, Sunday at about 3 p.m.

McClure, 6-4, 305, of Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. was a second-team junior college All-American as a freshman and had an excellent sophomore season. He hosted Bielema and Allen at his grandparents’ house in Andover, Kan.

“He cared about us on a personal level,” McClure said. “He was talking to my parents and talked to me. He felt like a part of the family to be honest. I can’t wait to get down there and play for him.”

McClure said Bielema told him he was excited to have him in the program.

“He told me it was good time for me to come in because they’re low on O-linemen,” McClure said. “He likes my size. He just wants me to get in and compete.”


Arkansas newest commitment, athlete Drew Morgan of Greenwood, received a phone call from Coach Bret Bielema on Sunday.

“I automatically went to smiles,” said Morgan, who congratulated Bielema on his new job. “I was excited that he called me.” Morgan, 6-0, 180, 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, played quarterback, running back, receiver, linebacker and safety for the Class 6A state champions this season and earned his second consecutive state title MVP award.

“He just got down to business,” said Morgan, who plans to make an official visit Jan. 11 or Jan. 18. “ ‘Dude, you’re a player, you’re a stud. I’m so glad you’re here. If they wouldn’t have offered you, I would have. I’m excited about you coming to Arkansas.’ ”


The three Arkansas commitments from Fayetteville, quarterback Austin Allen, linebacker Brooks Ellis and athlete Alex Brignoni, traveled up the road to meet with Coach Bret Bielema for about a hour at his office Saturday.

“He just wanted to get to know us like real people,” Allen said. “He told us how he was looking for houses and all that. He just made us feel real comfortable.”

Allen, who led the Bulldogs to their second consecutive Class 7A state title Dec. 1, liked Bielema’s offensive philosophy.

“He said if you can get 225 on the ground and 225 through the air, that’s what he likes,” Allen said. “Hethinks the pass sets up the run. I completely agree. I’m excited about it.”

Allen, Ellis and Brignoni set up their official visits for the Jan. 18-20 weekend.


Springdale Har-Ber junior defensive lineman Josh Frazier said he is excited about the hiring of Coach Bret Bielema and respects how he developed his players at Wisconsin, including Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt.

Watt signed with Central Michigan in 2007 and sat out a year before walking on at Wisconsin and becoming an All Big Ten conference selection in 2009 and 2010. Watt was a second-team All American in 2010 and was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

“He came out being a 3-star [recruit] and he was a walk-on and he put him in the NFL Draft,” Frazier said. “Somebody was telling me why Alabama is so good is because they get 4-stars and pretty much can put anybody in the NFL but he [Bielema] turns these 3-stars and he puts them into the NFL.”

Frazier, 6-4, 324, 5.1 seconds in the 40, has been offered scholarships by Arkansas, Alabama and Arkansas State. He said he’s been tempted to commit to the Hogs after the hiring of Bielema but plans to wait and see how next season goes.


Alabama Coach Nick Saban visited North Little Rock High School on Monday to see running back Altee Tenpenny, who is committed to the Crimson Tide.

Alabama assistant coach Mike Groh visited Pulaski Academy to check on tight end Hunter Henry, who’s committed to Arkansas. Arkansas assistant coach Bobby Allen is expected to visit both schools today.

Tenpenny plans to officially visit Arkansas on Jan. 18-20 while Henry plans to visit in January but hasn’t set a date.

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports, Pages 20 on 12/11/2012