Junior college linebacker big enough for Bielema

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Martrell Spaight, pictured as a senior at North Little Rock in 2010, received an offer from Arkansas last week.
Martrell Spaight, pictured as a senior at North Little Rock in 2010, received an offer from Arkansas last week.

— Junior college All-America linebacker Martrell Spaight grew up wanting a scholarship offer from Arkansas, and he received one Saturday night.

Spaight, 6-0 1/2, 220 pounds, 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, plays for Coffeyville(Kan.) Community College and is a 2011 graduate of North Little Rock. Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and assistant coach Bobby Allen, Spaight’s lead recruiter,extended a scholarship offer during an in-home visit.

“I bled red and now, to be able to get that offer, it feels great to know all that hard work paid off,” Spaight said. “To be able to get an offer from a major Division I college from your home state, it just gives you a good feeling.”

Spaight orally committed to Kansas State five days before receiving the offer from the Razorbacks. Now he is thinking things over with his father.

“I’m just taking the pros and the cons on both sides,” Spaight said. “What can I do in the SEC or what can I do in the Big 12? How will this pan out? How will that pan out?”

Spaight was named a first team NJCAA All-American and the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Defensive Player of the Year.Spaight recorded more than 120 tackles each of his two seasons at Coffeyville.

Spaight said the Hogs like him as a weak side linebacker and he liked what he heard from Bielema.

“The previous coaching staff, I was told, thought I was too small to play in the SEC,” said Spaight, who plans to enroll at his new school in January. “Coach [Bielema] came in and pretty much said that he had a linebacker while he was at Wisconsin that was 5-11.”


North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny likes Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema’s choice of Jim Chaney as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but Tenpenny admits he needs to do more research.

“It’s a good pickup because Tennessee had a great offense while he was there this past year,” Tenpenny said. “I believe they were like No. 15 in the nation or around that, or maybe higher. He and Coach Bielema make a good combination.”

Tenpenny, 5-11, 215, 4.32, is orally committed to Alabama and is the No. 46 prospect in the nation, according to national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network.

He missed a call from Bielema shortly after Bielema was introduced as Arkansas’ coach. Tenpenny called him the next day.

“He seemed like a cool person,” Tenpenny said. “He introduced himself before we started talking about everything. I guess he did some research because he knew my birthday was coming up,We talked about my interest in Arkansas and what I knew about him as a coach, and then he talked to my parents.”

Tenpenny said he’ll officially visit Alabama on Jan. 11 and Arkansas on Jan. 18 and is still thinking about setting up a visit with Oklahoma State.


Two Tennessee commitments, offensive lineman Brett Kendrick and receiver Josh Smith of Christian Academy of Knoxville, are considering taking official visits to Arkansas because of the two former Volunteers assistants who have been hired by the Razorbacks.

Kendrick, 6-6, 295, 5.2, was recruited to the Volunteers by Sam Pittman, Arkansas’ new offensive line coach, and Smith, 6-2, 195, 4.48, was recruited there by Jim Chaney, the Razorbacks new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Both were recently offered scholarships by the Razorbacks.

“There’s just something about him,” Kendrick said of Pittman. “He gets along well with my parents. My mom literally cried when she found out Pittman was getting fired from UT. I was talking to some of the Tennessee linemen and they talked about how bad they were going to miss him.”

Smith is equally impressed with Chaney.

“It definitely gets me interested in Arkansas, but I’m still in love with UT,” Smith said. “I love the new coaching staff, but there’s no Jim Chaney other than the guy at Arkansas now. He was one of the reasons why I committed to UT.”

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports, Pages 22 on 12/18/2012