Good news as Hogs sign three players

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Michael Smith is in his first season as Arkansas' wide receivers coach.
Photo by Michael Woods
Michael Smith is in his first season as Arkansas' wide receivers coach.

Arkansas received some expected and unexpected news Wednesday when junior college receiver Cody Hollister signed a national letter of intent with the Razorbacks and receiver Jared Cornelius signed an institutional financial aid agreement with Arkansas.

Hollister, 6-4, 205 pounds, 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, was expected to sign with Arkansas out of Arizona Western Community College in Yuma, Ariz., after choosing the Razorbacks over scholarship offers from Wyoming and Troy.

Cornelius, of Shreveport Evangel, was somewhat of a surprise after originally committing to Arkansas and then flipping to TCU last Friday after expressing concern about the number of opportunities he might get at Arkansas.

Hollister said his comfort level with Coach Bret Bielema and receivers coach Michael Smith played a big part in his decision. He had 69 receptions for 934 yards and 5 touchdowns this season and was named to the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference’s first team.

“To sign with Arkansas means so much to me,” said Hollister, who has three years to play. “I’ve worked hard to get to this point.”

Cornelius, 6-1, 190, 4.48, took an official visit to TCU during the middle of last week and ended up committing to the Horned Frogs.

He called Bielema about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and talked about what his role would be at Arkansas and how he would get his touches in the Razorbacks’ offense.

“I want to get the ball, and I want to be an impact player,” Cornelius said. “He reassured me about what I was looking for, and that’s why I signed this morning.”

Under a new interpretation of NCAA legislation, high school seniors on schedule to graduate in December who plan to enroll in January are allowed to sign an institutional financial aid agreement that binds a school to the player but does not bind the player to the school. A player’s first day on campus in January officially binds him to the school.

Cornelius said he also spoke Tuesday night with another Arkansas commitment, quarterback Rafe Peavey of Bolivar, Mo.

“Rafe played in a big part in my decision,” Cornelius said. “He and I have a great relationship.”

Arkansas picked up another signee late Wednesday night when offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola of Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, signed with the Razorbacks.

Tretola, 6-4 ½ , 315, 4.9, chose Arkansas offers from Oklahoma and TCU. He said Bielema and Sam Pittman were key factors in his decision.

“The coaching staff was probably one of the biggest things,” said Tretola, who officially visited Fayetteville last weekend. “I’m a big fan of Coach Pittman. We hit it off as soon as we met. Coach Bielema and I had a couple of good talks. So at the end of the day I felt like it was the right decision.”

Sports, Pages 25 on 12/19/2013