Recruits give new staff chance to make pitch

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STEPHEN B. THORNTON -- North Little Rock's Altee Tenpenny runs through Fayetteville defenders during their Class 7A playoff football game Nov. 23, 2012 in North Little Rock.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STEPHEN B. THORNTON -- North Little Rock's Altee Tenpenny runs through Fayetteville defenders during their Class 7A playoff football game Nov. 23, 2012 in North Little Rock.

— Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and his staff are expected to host 12 prospects on official visits this weekend, including North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny and huge offensive lineman Dan Skipper of Colorado.

Tenpenny, 5-11, 218 pounds, 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is expected to arrive today with his parents for his visit. The Hogs have only one experienced tailback on-campus — Jonathan Williams, who will be a sophomore this fall — and are hoping to convince Tenpenny to renege on his oral commitment to Alabama and come to Arkansas instead. Oral commitments are nonbinding.

The Crimson Tide return several running backs, including T.J. Yeldon, who will be a sophomore, and have commitments from Tyren Jones and Derrick Henry. CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming believes the Hogs have a chance to sway Tenpenny.


Arkansas will host 12 prospects on official visits this weekend

North Little Rock RB Altee Tenpenny, an Alabama commit, will be among them

Hunter Henry, a consensus all-American tight end committed to Arkansas, will also be on-hand

“He could be a difference maker,” said Lemming, who rates Tenpenny a four-starplus prospect. “What Bielema has been known for is a great running game, maybe the best in the country. You need to develop the running game with an impact player or two, and Tenpenny is the impact back they need.”

Skipper, 6-10, 295, 4.97, plays for Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley and is orally committed to Tennessee. He will be joined by another highly touted offensive lineman, Reeve Koehler, 6-3, 315, 5.2, of Honolulu St. Louis. Lemming rates both linemen as four-star prospects.

“You may have a potential superstar at 6-10, 350,” Lemming said of the prospect of Skipper adding to his frame. “He’s the tallest guy I’ve seen in the last ten years that was a big-time prospect. “Reeve is one of the three best players in Hawaii, a big, physical kid. He would be a major catch for them. He’s nationally recruited.”

Skipper is expected to leave Saturday to head to Ohio State for a visit, and Koehler is expected to decide between Arkansas and Kansas sometime next week.

Arkansas commitment and Pulaski Academy tight end Hunter Henry, 6-5, 235, 4.8, will be accompanied by his mother Jenny, who is an Arkansas graduate, and father Mark, who was an All-Southwest Conference selection at center in the 1991.

“He’s the No. 1 tight end in the country,” Lemming said. “He’s a guy that can separate after the catch. You don’t see that many big guys with his type of production and potential.”

The Hogs are hoping to get Tulsa Washington safety Dominique Alexander, 6-1, 194, 4.53, back into the fold when he visits. He committed to Arkansas in June, saw his stock soar, and eventually orally committed to Oklahoma in November after citing the uncertainty surrounding Arkansas’ coaching staff.

“They have to show they want him more than Oklahoma,” Lemming said.


Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and track Coach Chris Bucknam had an inhome visit with one of the top football and track prospects in the nation Wednesday night.

Receiver Devon Allen, 6-1, 190 pounds, 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Phoenix Brophy Prep and his father, Louis, liked what they heard from both coaches.

“He knows his stuff about football and his stuff about being an athlete because all of what he did in high school and in college,” Allen said of Bielema. “It’s pretty cool to talk to a guy that’s looking for the best for an athlete as a whole.”

Allen has recorded laser times of 10.49 seconds in the 100 meters, 20.75 seconds in the 200, 48.45 seconds in the 400, 13.52 seconds in the 110 high hurdles and 36.39 seconds in the 300 hurdles.

Allen and his father, Louis, plan to make an official visit to Arkansas on Feb. 1 but are trying to make arrangements to visit next weekend.

“He knows his stuff,” Allen said of Bucknam. “They’re the No. 1-ranked indoor team this season and they won the SEC last year. Success breeds success.”

Allen was impressed with how easily and quickly he and Bielema made a connection. He said Bielema used math to make a point.

“He said the average age [life span] for a man in America is 72,” Allen said. “ ‘What’s half of 72?’ I said, ‘36’. Then he said, ‘Half of 36 is 18, and you’re 18 right now. So the next four years are going to impact the next 50.’ ”

Louis Allen said Bielema and Bucknam worked well together, unlike coaches at some other places.

“I won’t name the schools, but you’ll get a football coach stepping all over what a track coach is saying, or a track coach stepping all over what a football coach is saying instead of giving them the time to communicate,” Louis Allen said. “They didn’t do that at all.”


Arkansas is one of about two dozen schools that have offered a scholarship to junior linebacker D’Ronzjiah Mathews, according to his coach, Grant Redhead.

Mathews, 6-0, 210 pounds, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of South Fort Meyers, Fla., is a hard-hitting prospect.

“He’s a very explosive linebacker, great speed and physical,” Redhead said. “He’s been an all-area player since a sophomore. He made all-state this year and all-area first team. He finishes the tackle, I’ll put it that way.

“I heard a coach say his film isn’t PG, it’s R-rated for violence. I liked that one.”

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports, Pages 26 on 01/18/2013