THE RECRUITING GUY:

6-7 WR Iheanacho flying high

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Published: Friday, December 13, 2013
Frank Iheanacho of the T.J. Ford Elite from Houston, Texas shoots the basketball over a Texas Select defender during the Real Deal in the Rock 17 and under championship game at the PARK Gym in Little Rock.
Photo by Jimmy Jones
Frank Iheanacho of the T.J. Ford Elite from Houston, Texas shoots the basketball over a Texas Select defender during the Real Deal in the Rock 17 and under championship game at the PARK Gym in Little Rock.

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and his staff are in the midst of a busy week of hosting recruits for official visits.

Highly touted receiver Frank Iheanacho was the first to arrive Wednesday evening. He will wrap up his trip today before heading to Oregon for an official visit. He previously made an official visit to LSU.

Iheanacho, 6-7, 220, of Houston Westside, saw limited football action as a sophomore and decided to focus on basketball during his junior year and received several scholarship offers.

He was convinced to give football a try again this season and has burst onto the national scene.

“He had six Division I basketball offers,” Westside Coach Mark Byrd said. “I had hired his brother’s best friend as our receivers coach that played at TCU. His name was Alonzo Adams. So Alonzo got on staff and said, ‘Coach I’m going to work on him to see if I can get him back out.’ ”

Adams’ efforts paid off as Iheanacho had 47 receptions for 618 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Byrd sent out a highlights video of Iheanacho’s first four games and Iheanacho started drawing attention of college coaches.

Twenty offers poured in, and Iheanacho narrowed his list, in no particular order, toOregon, Arkansas, LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi, Missouri, TCU and Florida State.

“He’s kind of a unique body type that everyone is seeing now,” Byrd said. “You’re always trying to get mismatches. Just the way the game is going people can find a lot of speed but when you find someone that’s 6-7 and can catch the ball out in front of their body it’s a whole different dynamic position.”

Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas is Iheanacho’s lead recruiter, and Thomas did an in-home visit with Iheanacho’s mother Dec. 3 and later attended his basketball game. Bielema and receivers coach Michael Smith made an in-home Tuesday afternoon and attended his game in the evening.

Thomas and the coaches have told Iheanacho he’ll play wide receiver at Arkansas despite some schools being tempted to play him at tight end.

“I think it’s just the communication factor and trust,”Byrd said of Iheanacho’s fondness for the Razorbacks. “He’s not going to go to a place right now where he’ll be stuck with his hand on the ground. He doesn’t feel comfortable at tight end.” NIXING THE GATORS

Arkansas is looking to add immediate help on the offensive line, and Sebastian Tretola is one of three highly regarded junior-college prospects who arrived Thursday for an official visit.

Tretola, 6-4 ½ , 315 pounds, 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, has officially visited Texas Tech, Oklahoma, South Florida and TCU. He chose to make the Hogs his fifth visit over a late offer from Florida.

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman was a major reason Tretola shunned the Gators for his last trip. Tretola said Pittman’s unique way of starting a conversation usually makes him laugh.

“I like coach Pittman a lot,” Tretola said. “Every time he calls me he asks a question. I’ll answer the phone and I’ll say hello and then he’ll ask me questions without any introduction. He’s a real cool dude and funny. Old school. I’m a big fan of Coach Pittman.”

Tretola said the Hogs want to use him at guard, but that Pittman wants him to be ableto play center, too. Tretola said he is impressed with the track record of Pittman and Bielema sending offensive linemen to the NFL

“That’s obviously a big thing,” Tretloa said.

Tretola, along with receiver Cody Hollister and tight end Blake Whiteley of Arizona Western Community College, will leave Saturday.

Hollister, 6-4, 205, 4.5, recorded 69 receptions for 934 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. He also has scholarship offers from Troy and Wyoming. He indicated a good visit could lead to a commitment.

Whiteley, 6-5, 240, 4.7, has made official visits to Purdue, Virginia and has plans to visit Texas, but with the uncertainty of Coach Mack Brown’s future, the trip could be in doubt.

Arkansas will welcome 12 other prospects, including 10 commitments to campus today. Safety Payton Hendrix, 6-3, 194, Dallas Bishop Dunne High School and Rogers linebacker Zack Wary, 6-4, 215, 4.45, are the only noncommitted prospects.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 27 on 12/13/2013

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