Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007.
Two Semper Fi standouts looking at Razorbacks
Defensive lineman Enoch Smith Jr.
LOS ANGELES Prior relationships with Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge while they were at Wisconsin has two junior Illinois defensive linemen interested in the Razorbacks.
Enoch Smith Jr., 6-3, 265, 4.83 seconds in the 40 yard dash, of Chicago, (Ill.) Mount Carmel was being recruited by Ash while Dylan Thompson, 6-5, 260 4.8 seconds in the 40 yard dash, of Lombard, (Ill.) Montini has been able to talk to Ash and Partridge.
Both were two of the more physically developed defensive line prospects at The Semper Fidelis All American Proving Grounds combine.
Smith, who has approximately 10 scholarship offers, including Norte Dame, Illinois and Purdue, is impressed with the SEC dominance but won't be swayed by conference affliction.
"As you look around, the SEC has been dominating college football for the last couple of years," Smith said. "It makes you think back like 'Wow, the SEC is the real deal' but you also have to look at the other conferences like the Big Ten because I'm from the Big Ten area. Some conferences may have a down year but you need to focus on what's your best fit on a team and how you can help build the program up."
Smith said he's friends with Chicago Simeon Career quarterback Robert Gregory, who was committed to Arkansas before signing with Purdue.
"I have family down there in Arkansas," said Smith, who reports a 405 pound bench press and 545 squat. "They live in Little Rock, aunts, uncles and cousins. I don't know much about (Arkansas) but I would love to get to know more."
Thompson, who reports 370 pound bench press and 495 squat, said he developed a good relationship with Partridge and Ash after camping at Wisconsin.
"Coming into the Wisconsin camp I was kind of a nobody...but as the camp went on the coaches said I showed a lot of promise," Thompson said. "I got really close with Partridge and Ash over the summer and I came back for a couple of visits later in the year. Now hoping to go to Arkansas for a couple of visits to check out the school sometime during the winter or spring."
Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue are among the schools showing Thompson interest. He enjoyed Partridge's teachings during the Badger camp.
"He knew how to communicate with the players and he knew how to bring the best out of the people," Thompson said. "The big thing he told us was when you're going up against offensive linemen you can't say 'Ok, I'm going to rip this move. you have to feel what you're going to do'. You can't have a preset determination."
Before the Proving Grounds combine, Smith reflected on being able to compete against the best of the best at the combine.
"I'm extremely honored to receive an invitation to such an event like this," Smith said. "And go up against what some people consider some of the best prospects in the nation. But my real reason for coming here is to get better as player and see what my strengths and weaknesses are so I know what to work on to be a better teammate for my team."