THE RECRUITING GUY:

Skipper savors dining experience

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Martrell Spaight (27) tracks down an opposing player in a junior college game. The linebacker signed his letter of intent to play for the Razorbacks and visited Arkansas for the first time this weekend.
Martrell Spaight (27) tracks down an opposing player in a junior college game. The linebacker signed his letter of intent to play for the Razorbacks and visited Arkansas for the first time this weekend.

— Official visits for 11 of the 12 football prospects Arkansas hosted this weekend will wrap up today, but highly recruited offensive lineman Dan Skipper of Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley finished up his visit Saturday.

Skipper, 6-10, 295 pounds, 4.97 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said one of the highlights of the trip was meeting the players and his host, center Travis Swanson.

“I really liked the offensive linemen,” said Skipper, who has orally committed to Tennessee. “He [Swanson] really likes it here. He’s second team All-SEC and you would never know it.”

All 12 recruits attended dinner Friday night at a local restaurant, the Catfish Hole, which was packed with Razorbacks fans.

“That was nuts,” said Skipper, who arrived in Fayetteville on Thursday. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. That was awesome. It was great, great fans. It was just a great experience.”

Skipper showed interest in the Razorbacks immediately after the hiring of offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

“I love Coach Pittman,” Skipper said. “He’s a great coach. He’s done a lot of good things at Tennessee and has a good track record.”

Skipper’s parents, Ken and Brigid, also made the trip and were impressed.

“We liked it a lot,” Brigid Skipper said. “It was very friendly. I was really pleasantly surprised by their athletic academic counselors and how truly passionate they are. I think they have a really good program going there.”

The Skippers flew out of Tulsa on Saturday afternoon for an official visit to Ohio State before heading to Ole Miss for his last trip. The dinner Friday night made a big impression on Brigid.

“It was a pretty amazing experience,” Brigid said. “I’ve never ever seen anything like that before.”

Skipper said there is no timeline for his decision.

LONG-AWAITED VISIT

Linebacker Martrell Spaight signed with Arkansas in December without visiting the campus because of the dead period, but he and his parents, Mark and Tela, made their way up for his official visit Friday.

Spaight, 6-0 1/2, 220, 4.5, graduated from North Little Rock High School and attended Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, where he was a two-time All-American and was named the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference’s defensive player of the year.

He said he grew up watching the Razorbacks play on television.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Spaight said.

HENRY MAKES PITCH

Pulaski Academy tight end Hunter Henry, an Arkansas commitment, arrived Friday with his parents, Jenny and Mark, for his official visit.

Henry, 6-5, 235, 4.8, is rated as the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation by CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.

Henry said he was looking forward to hanging out with North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny, who is orally committed to Alabama, and hopes Tenpenny joins the Razorbacks.

“He’s one of the best running backs in the nation,” Henry said of Tenpenny, who is visiting Fayetteville this weekend.

“It would be great to have him as a Hog and keep the instate kids, but he has to make the decision for himself. We’ll take this visit and see where he is.”

SHANNON IMPRESSES

Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon made an in-home visit Wednesday with highly sought cornerback Lamar Robbins of Miami Southridge.

Robbins, 6-3, 190, 4.49, has officially visited Oklahoma, West Virginia, Purdue and was scheduled to visit Louisville this weekend.

“He’s good, dude,” Robbins said of Shannon. “I can actually talk to him if he doesn’t coach me. I’ll probably call him and get some tips on life if I’m going through something. I could definitely talk to him.”

He said he’ll decide Monday or Tuesday whether to visit Arkansas or South Florida on Jan. 25. Robbins said a school’s defensive line will be an important factor in his decision.

“The defensive line makes defensive backs,” Robbins said. “If you don’t have a sound defensive line, you don’t have a solid defensive back corp. That’s going to make a lot of good defensive backs look bad because you can’t cover anybody for 10 seconds. It’s impossible at that level.”

LINEBACKER PLANS VISIT

Arkansas is expected to get an official visit from one of the top linebacker prospects in Florida.

Skai Moore, 6-3, 210, 4.5, plays at Fort Lauderdale University High School and will officially visit Arkansas on Feb. 1, his coach, Roger Harriott, said.

“I know he has pretty much narrowed it down to Vanderbilt, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee from the last time we spoke,” Harriott said.

Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge recruited Moore while at Wisconsin, and that along with the hiring of Coach Bret Bielema helped the Hogs get a visit,

“He’s a genuine person,” Harriott said of Partridge. “He connects with them on their level and he treats them with respect.

“He does a great job from an interpersonal standpoint of communicating, and that’s what makes him one of the best recruiters in the country.”

E-mail Richard Davenport at

rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 34 on 01/20/2013

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