Bielema makes big impression

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach, speaks to the media during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Michael Woods
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach, speaks to the media during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

— Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and offensive line coach Sam Pittman traveled approximately 4,000 miles for an in-home visit Friday with highly touted Honolulu St. Louis offensive lineman Reeve Koehler.

Bielema’s physical stature made a real impression.

“I didn’t know it before, but it shocked me. ... I didn’t realize how big Coach B was,” Koehler said, laughing. “Me being a lineman, I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting someone taller and with broader shoulders than me.”

Koehler, 6-3, 315 pounds, 5.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is a physically gifted lineman who plays with good leverage. He is rated a four-star prospect by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network and is expected to take an official visit to Fayetteville on Jan. 18.

Bielema won over Koehler’s parents and his 3-yearold sister, Ava.

“All the coaches have come to my house and she hasn’t said one word to any of them,” Koehler said. “For some reason, she walked up and started playing with him. That was shocking to me.”

Koehler said his relationship with Pittman, who recruited him when Pittman was at Tennessee, is a major reason why he is visiting Fayetteville.

“It was basically the same,” Koehler said. “He told me, ‘You know me. You know how I feel about you.’ ”

Koehler said Kansas and Arkansas are his finalists, and he plans to make a decision sometime after his trip to Fayetteville.


Arkansas’ coaches hope to have Plantation (Fla.) South running back Alex Collins running behind Reeve Koehler.

Collins and his mother received an in-home visit Saturday from Arkansas defensive line coach Charlie Partridge and running backs coach Joel Thomas.

Collins, 5-11, 210 pounds, 4.4, has orally committed to Miami but reopened his recruiting and will take an official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 25. Oral commitments are nonbinding.

He has officially visited Florida and Florida State. He also took an official visit to Wisconsin when Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema was still coaching the Badgers. Collins said Arkansas’ coaches reassured his mother about a variety of things, including the school having his two possible majors, criminal justice and broadcasting.

“They hit on every key to leave no doubt in her mind about anything,” Collins said.

Partridge, who is originally from Plantation, has a stellar reputation in south Florida and has had a long relationship with Collins. Collins said he isn’t as familiar with Thomas, but he was impressed with his potential position coach.

“I got a good vibe that he’s a good coach,” Collins said. “He’s not only focused on how I excel on the field but also in life, and that’s a good thing.”


Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash has made an in-home visit with athlete Jeryl Brazil of Loranger, La.

Brazil, 5-10 1/2, 190 pounds, 4.29, is one of the fastest high school players in the nation and has orally committed to LSU. He was laser-timed at 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash at The Opening, an event held in July at Nike headquarters in Oregon.

He said he and Ash talked about setting up an official visit to Arkansas.

“I don’t know when,” said Brazil, who plans to make visits to LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss. “He told me he was going to get back with me about it because we have to look at the schedule.”

Brazil has posted laser times of 10.35 seconds in the 100 meters and 20.81 in the 200. He wants to run track in college and is aware of Arkansas’ track and field success and its current No. 1 ranking.

“I’m a track guy as well as a football guy,” Brazil said. “Just to know that they have a nice football program and track is No. 1, that catches the eye of an athlete that does both.”


Arkansas is in line to gain an oral commitment from defensive lineman Monty Nelson of Plantation, Fla.

Nelson, 6-3, 310 pounds, 5.2, said he is planning to take an official visit to Fayetteville on Jan. 18, but that could change to Jan. 25. Arkansas defensive line coach Charlie Partridge had an in-home visit with Nelson on Friday evening.

“I really like Arkansas, especially Coach Partridge,” said Nelson, who also praised Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and defensive coordinator Chris Ash. “I feel real comfortable with Coach Partridge.”

Nelson reports a bench press of about 385 pounds and a 495-pound squat, and said he’ll likely commit to the Hogs during or after his visit.


Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson receiver Eddie Jackson, who has 18 scholarship offers, plans to take an official visit to Arkansas on Feb. 1

Jackson, 6-2, 180 pounds, 4.38, is familiar with Arkansas receivers coach George Mc-Donald and linebackers coach Randy Shannon.

“He was recruiting me when he was at UM,” Jackson said of McDonald. “They have Randy Shannon. He also recruited me when he was at TCU.”

Jackson, whose mother is from Little Rock, is wrapping up a visit to Florida State today and plans to visit Alabama on Jan. 18 and LSU on Jan. 25. He said McDonald told him the Hogs need his play-making ability.

“He was telling me they need a guy to come in and make an impact right away,” Jackson said, “a receiver that could play slot, a versatile receiver that also that could stretch the field and also make things happen on special teams.”

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Sports, Pages 30 on 01/13/2013