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.
Iheanacho's skills big like his frame
Arkansas Assistant Coach Joel Thomas works with the Razorbacks during practice on Saturday, March 30, 2013 in Fayetteville.
College coaches like the obvious size mismatch receiver Frank Iheanacho provides against defensive backs, but they’re startled to see him be so advanced in fundamentals despite his limited experience.
“What really amazes them is his route running,” said Houston Westside Coach Mark Byrd. “They’re not going to have to go in there and refine a lot of stuff and teach a big kid how to run In press coverage.”
Iheanacho, 6-7, 220 pounds will finished up his official visit to Arkansas Friday afternoon and then headed to Oregon for another official visit. He played football as a sophomore and then focused on basketball and was able to earn six scholarship offers as a junior.
“He played for us as a sophomore and scored a couple of touchdowns and was an outside receiver for us,” Byrd said.
Iheancho saw offers flowing hos way this season after his football skills were discovered during the early part of the season.
“About four weeks in it, we had enough video clips and we sent them out,” Byrd said.
He recorded 47 receptions for 618 yards and 15 touchdowns this season and has accumulated approximately 20 offers. Iheanacho will decide from the four schools he's officially visited, Arkansas, Oregon, LSU or Texas A&M at the U. S. Army All American game on Jan. 4.
Byrd said Iheanacho was prodded to play this season by receivers coach Alonzo Adams. He made the decision to join the team a few days before the start of the season.
“He played AAU basketball so he was already in pretty good shape and he knew how to use his body as far as butting up against people and playing in space,” Byrd said. “I think the thing that took off for him was that once he had gotten onto shape was how his route running progression really took off. He doesn’t run stiff or gangling like a big tall kid. He’s very fluid, he knows how to drop his hips and has very quick feet and he’s on top of you in three or four steps. He has very deceptive speed.”
He's being recruited by Hogs’ running back coach Joel Thomas, who made an in-home visit with his mother on Dec. 3 and later in the evening attended his basketball game last week.
Iheanacho has good speed and ability to make the difficult catches despite his large frame.
“We’ve clocked at like a high 4.6’s,” Byrd said. “He’s not a speed burner, but he’s not a mechanical person. He’s very fluid for his size. He’s adjusted well as far as his vertical leap and catching balls and being able move his body in space to catch the bad balls. A lot of times a big kid like that can’t get down to catch a bad ball and he’s done well with that.”
The Razorback coaches have told Iheanacho he’ll play receiver at Fayetteville, not tight end like some maybe tempted to play him. Byrd said Iheanacho is a team player, but doesn’t see himslef playing with his hand on the ground.
“The biggest deal is what his position looks like and building a trust factor with the coaches,” Byrd said. “That’s what Arkansas told him. We’re looking at you being an outside guy.”
Coach Bret Bielema and receivers coach Michael Smith made an in-home visit with Iheanacho Tuesday afternoon and attended his game in the evening.
“Coach Bielema is doing the right thing there at Arkansas,” Byrd said. “I know it’s a heck of a transition coming from Wisconsin with a power offense and coming to the SEC. But like he said last night look at Auburn and Alabama two teams at the top of the SEC and they’re running the ball and they’re able spread the field with good receivers and that’s where he’s trying to get.”