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.
THE RECRUITING GUY:
Junior college lineman all smiles after official visit
Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas made a big impact on Iowa Western Community College offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola, who wrapped up his official visit to the school Saturday.
“I like it,” Tretola said. “It definitely has that old college feel, and I’m a big fan of that.”
Tretola, 6-4 ½ , 315 pounds, 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash, redshirted at Nevada as a freshman after signing with the Wolf Pack in 2011. He started four games the following year before transferring to the junior college in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
He earned f irst-team All-Midwest Football Conference honors this season. He officially visited Texas Tech, Oklahoma, South Florida and TCU prior to taking his visit to Arkansas. Tretola toured Arkansas’ facilities with All-American center Travis Swanson.
“The facilities are crazy,” Tretola said. “It’s nuts.”
Tretola’s relationship with Razorbacks offensive line coach Sam Pittman convinced him to take an official visit to Arkansas instead of Florida, which made a late offer to him.
“Coach Pittman is hilarious,” Tretola said. “He had me rolling as soon as I touched down. He’s just a funny guy. When he has to be he’s about his business, but he’s hilarious.”
Tretola also expressed admiration for Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema’s ability to put together outstanding offensive lines.
“I followed closely when he was at Wisconsin,” Tretola said. “I was a big fan of that. They just ran the ball and ran the ball and ran into you until you gave up.”
Tretola, a mid-term graduate who will have two years to play two seasons, plans to make his decision Wednesday, the first day mid-year junior college transfers can sign.
Arkansas is one of four schools to get an official visit from one of the hottest receiver prospects in the nation, Frank Iheanacho, who arrived on Wednesday and left Friday afternoon.
Iheanacho, 6-7, 220, plays for Houston Westside and has received approximately 20 scholarship offers this season. This is his first year to play football since his sophomore season, when he saw limited action. He skipped football his junior year to focus on basketball.
Iheanacho said his visit helped the Razorbacks’ chances.
“It’s definitely just boosted Arkansas,” Iheanacho said. “I like it.”
He recorded 47 receptions for 618 yards and 15 touchdowns, which averaged out to a touchdown for every three receptions. He has taken official visits to Texas A&M and LSU, and he left Friday to visit Oregon.
“The chemistry between the team stood out,” Iheanacho said of his Arkansas trip. “The coaching staff, they just took their time to talk to me about everything.”
Iheanacho narrowed his list to Oregon, Arkansas, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Missouri, TCU and Florida State on Dec.2. He said the trip to Oregeon will be his last, and he plans to announce his decision Jan. 4 at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio.
He gave his lead recruiter at Arkansas, running backs coach Joel Thomas, credit for convincing him to visit Arkansas.
“He was just cool from the jump,” said Iheanacho, whose player host was running back Jonathan Williams. “I felt I’d visit and see what he was explaining.”TWO GOOD VISITS
Junior college receiver Cody Hollister and tight end Blake Whiteley of Arizona Western Community College enjoyed their official visits, which started Thursday and ended Saturday.
Hollister, 6-4, 205, 4.5, also has scholarship offers from Wyoming and Troy. So does his twin brother Jacob, a tight end at the school.
Hollister said the visit tempted him to commit, but he wanted to talk things over with his family first.
“My family is the biggest thing with me,” said Hollister, who has three years to play three seasons and will enroll in January at whatever school he chooses. “ I just want to make sure they’re good with everything and everything is sealed away, especially with my twin brother and his situation, both of our situations, because we both come from the same background and the same experiences.”
Whiteley, 6-5, 240, 4.7, left Saturday morning for an official visit to Texas. He also has taken official visits to Purdue and Virginia.
“I learned a lot while I was here, and I am excited about continuing the process for sure,” he said.
The way the Razorbacks use the tight end was a hit with Whiteley.
“I want to play in an offense where I can be used well, catch passes and put my hand down,” Whiteley said. “They do a lot of it here.”HOGS WANT SAFETY
Highly regarded safety Payton Hendrix of Dallas Bishop Dunne High School will wrap up his official visit today and said Arkansas’ vision is one of several things that has the school among his top candidates.
Hendrix said he likes the fact Arkansas is a member of the SEC and he would have the chance to play early. He said he also likes the coaching staff.
Hendrix, 6-3, 194, has more than 20 scholarship offers from schools that include Arkansas, Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Washington, North Carolina and Arizona State.
Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash visited his school Wednesday and had a message for him.
“He said they really want me,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix has officially visited Texas Tech and Notre Dame and said Arkansas will be his last visit. He plans to announce his decision within the next month.
Arkansas lost an oral commitment from receiver Jared Cornelius of Shreveport Evangel on Friday, according to Damon Sayles of ESPN.
E-mail Richard Davenport at email@example.com
Sports, Pages 30 on 12/15/2013