Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
Arkansas recruits waiting, watching
Special the the Arkansas Democrat Gazette/MATT JOHNSON - 11-01-2012- Pulaski Academy tight end, and Arkansas commit, Hunter Henry turns upfield during first-half action against Jacksonville on November 1, 2012.
LITTLE ROCK News of Arkansas’ decision not to retain John L. Smith as its head football coach did not come as a surprise to several of the recruits who have orally committed to the Razorbacks, but they said they are anxious to find out who will be the next coach.
Athletic Director Jeff Long announced Saturday that Smith had been reassigned following the Razorbacks’ 4-8 season, which ended Friday with a 20-13 loss to BCS No. 7 LSU at Fayetteville.
One of Arkansas’ top commitments, tight end Hunter Henry of Pulaski Academy, said he expected the change.
“It’s been hard times up there,” Henry said. “I’m looking forward to seeing who the new coach is going to be, and hopefully he’ll be a great coach and come in and change things.”
Henry said he would like to see a coach hired who will utilize the tight end and one with strong leadership.
“This year I felt like there wasn’t much leadership, but I want someone that’s going to come in and lead the program and lead it in the right direction,” Henry said.
Henry, who has taken an official visit to Alabama, wasn’t ready to say whether a new coach might change his plan to check out other schools.
“I don’t know yet,” Henry said. “I’m going to figure that all out. I’m still going through the process.”
Quarterback Tyler Cogswell of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage said he knew Smith might not be the coach next season.
“I had been hearing from the beginning that there might be a coaching change at the end of the year, so it wasn’t too unexpected,” Cogswell said. “I’m just excited to see who the new coach is going to be.”
Cogswell said he and Arkansas offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Paul Petrino are close, but he realizes Petrino might not be retained.
“That’s entered my mind,” Cogswell said. “I think I really have to meet the new coach. I still love Arkansas and I love the place. I didn’t just commit for the coaches.”
Junior college All-America offensive lineman Johnathan McClure of Butler County (Kan.) Community College is still a solid commitment and is looking forward to seeing who the new coach will be, according to his father.
“He’s just excited to get down there and compete for his spot,” John McClure said. “He’s trying to not worry too much about it. He’s anxious to see who it’s going to be. He’s pretty set on Arkansas.”
Forrest City defensive end Tevin Beanum said he isn’t overly concerned about the change.
“I think Jeff Long and the people that are over that will handle it the best way and choose the best prospect out of all the coaches.” Beanum said. “I’m not worried about it.”
Cornerback Carroll Washington of Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell College said he hopes he will be able to relate well with the new coach and go to him with any problems he has, like he feels he can do with receivers coach Kris Cinkovich.
“That’s what I kind of have in Coach Cink right now,” Washington said.
Washington said he hasn’t given any thought of what might happen should Arkansas not retain the assistant coaches.
“That will be a tough situation to be in,” Washington said. “Hopefully that’s not the case, but if it is the case I really haven’t thought about that so far.”
Sports, Pages 33 on 11/25/2012