THE RECRUITING GUY:

Fast-rising prospect shows interest in Razorbacks

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, December 28, 2012
Joel Thomas, pictured during a Washington-Boise State game, was hired by the Razorbacks on Monday and has helped Terrell Newby's interest toward the Razorbacks.
Joel Thomas, pictured during a Washington-Boise State game, was hired by the Razorbacks on Monday and has helped Terrell Newby's interest toward the Razorbacks.

— Arkansas’ hiring of Joel Thomas as running backs coach has highly touted California running back Terrell Newby interested in the Razorbacks.

Newby, 5-10, 185 pounds, 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash, rushed 301 times for 2,305 yards and 45 touchdowns at West Hills Chaminade High School and is rated a four-star recruit by CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst To m L e m - ming.

Thomas established a relationship with Newby and his parents back in February while Thomas was coaching at Washington.

“He’s got to know me and my family pretty well,” Newby said. “I think my parents love him as a person also. He really loves his backs and treats them well. I could see myself playing under him.”

Newby has taken an official visit to Nebraska and is scheduled to visit UCLA on Jan. 11. He said Thomas reached out to him on Christmas Day with a message on Facebook.

“He said he still wants a chance to coach me,” Newby said.

Newby, who reports 18 scholarship offers, said he plans to talk to his parents about taking a possible official visit to Arkansas.

“They’re 100 percent supportive of my decision,” said Newby, who has recorded a 10.77-second laser time in the 100 meters. “I have to talk to Coach Thomas about it and see if he can set it up in time before I make my commitment. I’m definitely willing to look into taking a visit. That’s one of the five visits I want to take.”

Lemming said Newby’s senior season made him one of the hottest prospects on the West Coast.

“He had a fantastic senior year, MVP of his region on offense,” Lemming said. “He’s small but explosive. He’s probably the fastest-rising star in California.”

HARDING IMPRESSED

Safety Khari Harding of Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe has seen his stock go up since giving Arkansas an oral commitment in June, and recently he added a scholarship offer from Auburn.

Harding, 6-1, 201, 4.6, estimates he has 16 scholarship offers, but is focusing on three — Arkansas, Auburn and Arizona State — and plans to take official visits to each.

“I’m still committed,” Harding said. “I’m just finally getting recognized by these other schools. I feel like I’m a great player and I think I can contribute to a team real quickly.”

Harding said he missed a call from Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema not long after Bielema was hired. Harding was working when Bielema called, and he said he called him back Dec. 12.

“My impression was good, a cool coach,” Harding said. “He was at dinner with some of the [junior college] players so I really didn’t talk to him that long, so I didn’t get a vibe with him but he was cool to talk to in that short period of time.”

Harding, who finished his season with more than 100 tackles, said relationships and a school’s business department will help him decide on a college.

“The relationship with the coaches, the facilities, the fans and academics,” Harding said. “I want to be a businessman, so you have to look at that.”

SPAIGHT’S TAKE

Linebacker Martrell Spaight might have signed with Arkansas out of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots at North Little Rock High School.

Spaight, 6-0 1/2, 220, 4.5, is hoping that another Charging Wildcat, running back Altee Tenpenny, will join him in Fayetteville. Tenpenny, who is orally committed to Alabama, plans to take an official visit to Fayetteville on Jan. 18. Oral commitments are nonbinding.

“He’s a great running back,” said Spaight, who graduated from North Little Rock in 2011. “So I will be persuading him to keep the talent in Arkansas to help Coach [Bret] Bielema in trying to bring back the tradition.

“I believe 100 percent there’s no place like home, and Altee Tenpenny should stay here and just represent for his home state.”

Spaight, who will likely have to wait until June to enroll at Arkansas, earned firstteam All-America honors during his two seasons at Coffeyville and wa s n a m e d the defensive player of the year in the Jayhawk Conference this season.

“We’re glad that Coach Bielema saw the same thing we’ve seen all along,” North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding said of Spaight. “People are going to enjoy watching this young man because he’s a playmaker, and he will lead the team in tackles next season. I’ll just go ahead and say it.”

E-mail Richard Davenport at

rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 19 on 12/28/2012

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