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:
UA commitment engages kindergarten class
Arkansas defensive line commitment Bijhon Jackson poses with his sister, Tiana during a visit to Hugh Goodwin elementary to read to a class of kindergartners.
El Dorado defensive lineman Bijhon Jackson, an Arkansas commitment, got quite the reaction when he read to teacher Natalie Vaughn’s kindergarten class during its Christmas party at Hugh Goodwin Elementary on Friday.
Most of the kids were thrilled to see a future Razorbacks player, but some were a taken back by his 6-2, 330-pound frame.
“Some the kids were scared,” Jackson said, with a laugh. “The teachers had to get some of them to come up and shake my hand.”
Jackson, who will play in the U.S. Army All American game in San Antonio on Jan. 4, was just as startled when he entered the room of 5- and 6-year olds.
“I just walked in the classroom and all the kids started yelling my name and started jumping around and got excited,” Jackson said. “I was sure that they knew who I was, but I didn’t think they would just recognize me. Even the older kids got excited from seeing me.”
Vaughn said a few boys, obsessed with El Dorado football and Jackson, had difficulty containing their excitement when Jackson entered the room.
“When he came to the party they saw him first and I had two kids literally fall out of their chairs,” Vaughn said. “They were so excited. They were freaking out about it.”
Jackson said his visit made a lasting impression that will follow him to Fayetteville.
“I realized just how big of an impact we make on the kids in this town,” said Jackson, who also spent time taking pictures with other students and some of his former teachers during the visit. “I just wish I had one more game to play as a Wildcat so I could play hard just for them, but every time I get ready to play from now on, I’m pretty sure I’ll think of the look on those kids faces when they saw me.”
Jackson’s reading of “The Night Before Christmas” got almost everyone to settle down.
“Their eyes did not move off of him the entire time and they’re never like that,” Vaughn said. “They were starstruck. It was the cutest thing.”
One of the most attentive students was Jackson’s younger sister, Tiana, who wasn’t shy about letting others know he was her big brother.
“Anytime the boys said anything, she was like ‘That’s my brother, that’s my brother,’ ” Vaughn said. “Making sure they knew that was her brother.”
Vaughn, whose husband Nick is the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, said she first met Jackson when she and her husband drove him up for a Razorbacks game in the fall.
“He wouldn’t let me ride in the back seat,” she said. “He had to ride in the back seat, which is hilarious, because it’s a little four-door car. He was ‘yes ma’am, no ma’am,’ very polite.”
Jackson, rated a four-star prospect by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, was one of the defensive line standouts at The Opening, the most prestigious event for the top prospects in the nation at Nike Headquarters during the summer. Despite all the notoriety and national accolades, Jackson has remained grounded.
“I think what I really love about him, he’s not cocky about it at all,” Vaughn said. “He doesn’t come across like,‘I’m Bijhon,’ and you need to do this for me or do this for me. He’s still very humble. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
“When you look at him, he’s this big, huge football player, but really he’s like a big teddy bear, except when he’s on the field.”
Jackson, who has helped lead El Dorado to two Class 6A state titles as a sophomore and senior, said the time spent with the kids made him more aware of how kids will look up to him as a Razorback.
“It has inspired me to be better for them,” Jackson said.
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Arkansas commitment listPOS. PLAYER HT. WT. 40 HOMETOWNWR JARED CORNELIUS 6-1 190 4.48 Shreveport Evangel ChristianRB JUAN DAY 6-2 210 4.5 North Little RockLB DWAYNE EUGENE 6-1 215 4.5 Metairie (La.) RummelLB KHALIA HACKETT 6-2 208 4.63 Douglasville (Ga.) S. PauldingDL JAKE HALL 6-5 230 - Springdale Har-BerK COLE HEDLUND 5-10 170 - Argyle,TexasDL BIJHON JACKSON 6-2 330 5.1 El DoradoTE JACK KRAUS 6-5 245 4.9 BentonvilleWR COREY MCBRIDE 6-2 180 4.34 Geismar (La.) DutchtownWR TORRANCE MOSLEY 5-10 175 4.4 Geismar (La.) DutchtownCB CHRIS MURPHY 5-10 180 4.4 Marietta (Ga.) LassiterQB RAFE PEAVEY* 6-2 207 4.5 Bolivar, Mo.
TE RAVIAN PIERCE 6-4 230 4.53 Plantation, Fla.
OL JOVAN PRUITT 6-6 295 5.1 Dallas Bishop DunneCB SANTOS RAMIREZ 6-2 180 4.55 Shreveport EvangelCB HENRE’ TOLIVER 6-1 180 4.56 Metairie (La.) RummelDL ARMON WATTS 6-5 270 5.1 St. Louis Christian BrothersSIGNEESWR CODY HOLLISTER 6-4 205 4.5 Arizona Western Community CollegeOL SEBASTIAN TRETOLA 6-4½ 315 4.9 Iowa Western Community College2015 COMMITMENTSDE-TE JAMARIO BELL 6-6 230 4.7 Junction CityDT HJALTE FROHOLDT 6-5 275 - Warren (Ohio) HardingOL COLTON JACKSON 6-6 291 - ConwayOL ZACH ROGERS 6-3 295 5.09 Carrollton (Texas) HebronQB TY STOREY 6-3 217 4.92 Charleston*Has signed an institutional financial aid agreement and will enroll in January.
Sports, Pages 20 on 12/24/2013