Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007. He also hosts Recruiting Thursday each Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. statewide.
Arkansas the total package for Froholdt
Lisa, Hjalte and Hans Froholdt enjoyed their time in Fayetteville during an unofficial visit in October of 2013.
Arkansas landed one of the top prospects in the 2015 class when highly regarded Danish defensive end Hjalte Froholdt publicly committed to the Razorbacks on Monday.
When Froholdt arrived back in Denmark after touring Arkansas, Alabama, Florida State and Michigan in October, he and his parents debated each school’s merit. Their visit to Fayetteville for the South Carolina game on Oct. 12 helped seal the deal.
“We tried to put every university into the best condition and the worse condition,” Froholdt said. “Whatever we got out of it Arkansas was just number one like all the time. We would try and put up a few scenarios up and Arkansas just always came out first.”
Froholdt, 6-5, 275 pounds made name for himself in a short period of time after arriving in the United States as an exchange student in 2012 by starting as a sophomore at tight end and defensive end at Warren (Ohio) Harding High School.
Soon afterward he started receiving scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Michigan, Louisville, Michigan State and others.
He said he felt he would eventually commit to the Hogs but took his time to make sure.
“I kind of had this feeling for awhile,” said Froholdt, who’s rated by ESPN as the No. 42 prospect in the 2015 class “I told myself I wanted to commit to Arkansas and then I lived for it for a week to try to feel how I was. I didn’t tell anyone, I like just woke up everyday thinking Arkansas was where I wanted to go. It was just the right feeling.“
Froholdt returned to Denmark for his junior year and played club football for the Gold Diggers of Sollerod. Conference affiliation had no bearing on his decision.
“It was totally the people,” said Froholdt, who’s lead recruiter is cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson. “That was the main factor.”
His advice for other recruits trying to sort out their college decision would be simple.
“I would of course say how great Arkansas is,” said Froholdt, who admitted he started thinking of committing to the Hogs on the first day of his latest trip. “I think I would say what every other coach would say, follow your heart because I don’t think you can talk someone into committing somewhere. It’s just a feeling. Everybody talks about it and I experienced it for myself.”
Froholdt and his father, Hans traveled to Arkansas, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in May. His mother, Lisa joined them for the October tour of schools. She was just as impressed as her son.
“I had the same feeling as Hjalte had after one day,” Lisa said. “I heard them talk about all the schools when they came back to Denmark so Arkansas was the first school I saw.”
Recruiting coordinator Chris Hauser and assistant recruiting coordinator Cody Moore’s plans for the day included a meeting two Razorback golfers, senior Sebastian Cappelen and junior Thomas Sorensen from Denmark.
“I tell you the whole day the way they had planned it it hit the bulls eye,” Lisa Froholdt said. “We began by meeting up with two Danish students that were on scholarships We could just sit there and chew the fat for an hour in Danish. What are the odds of having two students there like that?”
Froholdt grew fond of strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert during the May trip. The second meeting with Herbert helped sway him to Fayetteville.
“He was a big influence,” Froholdt said. “That guy... there’s really not a word to say it, he’s just special. He’s a special guy. I really think I could really work very well with him. He feels so passionate about the whole game and how he works the guys out and he gets results too and that’s also a big factor. He’s just a great guy.”
The Arkansas coaching staff, academic support and others associated with the university earned Lisa’s praise.
“They were all so nice and down-to-earth,” she said.
Froholdt plans to study kinesiology while at Arkansas. Susan Williams Mayes, the Instructor & Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies for Health, Human Performance and Recreation, impressed Lisa Froholdt by her willingness to spend unlimited time with them.
“She just made time and sat down and talked to us,” she said. “She was just so nice. She was just so nice.”
He was able to talk to the Razorback players.
“I could tell the way he was talking to the other guys and chewing the fat with them,” Lisa Froholdt said. “I could see that he could fit in. Some of the guys will be gone by the time Hjalte gets there, but he seemed like a part of the team.”
She also enjoyed the game day atmosphere.
“The Hog walk and the little song they sing... what was it?” she said. “Woo Pig Sooie.”
On Sunday, Hjalte placed a call to Coach Bret Bielema to tell him he wanted to be a Razorback.
“At the start I didn’t know how to say it,” Froholdt said. “I was fumbling around with my words and I was like I’m just going to say it now I’m going to commit to you guys. I don’t know if you have to say like a sentence like I here by commit or something like that, so I just threw it out there.”
Bielema’s enthusiasm was evident.
“It was great talking to him,” he said. “I was just so happy and he was happy too, and he told me I wouldn’t regret committing.”
Froholdt and his older brother, Lars, who’s just taking up the game, plan to attend a prep school in the United States next year so his bother will have an opportunity to earn a scholarship. At 6-1, 320 pounds, Lars will likely play nose guard and fullback next fall.
“Me and my brother got really, really close the year before he left and he just opened up this whole new world to me,” Lars Froholdt said. “I played like semi-professional handball in Denmark and even though it’s semi-professional it’s nothing like college football at all.”
The two brother plan to play together on the next level.
“I’ve always loved the sport through Hjalte,” said Lars, who’s 19 years old. “It just opened up a whole new world and I thought I really want to be a part of this and if I can be a part of it with Hjalte it would be like dream for both of us.