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:
Razorbacks making push for offensive linemen
Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon, a former Miami Hurricanes head coach, will be key in the Razorbacks' attempt to land prospects from Miami.
LITTLE ROCK Arkansas is expected to host seven prospects this weekend on official visits, and three are highly regarded offensive linemen, one of the Razorbacks’ major areas of need in the 2013 class.
Denver Kirkland of Miami Washington is considered to one of the best in Florida and is rated as a four-star prospect by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports. Kirkland, 6-5, 320 pounds, has visited Ole Miss, Florida State, South Florida and Miami.
“He’s looking forward to going there and going through the process, the academics and what’s different from Miami to Fayetteville as well as the athletic part of it,” Washington Coach Tim Harris Sr. said.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, offensive line coach Sam Pittman and linebackers coach Randy Shannon, who is Kirkland’s lead recruiter, visited with him and his mother Tuesday.
Harris was an administrative assistant for Shannon when Shannon was at the University of Miami, and he credited the former Hurricanes coach and his south Florida ties for the Hogs getting a visit from Kirkland.
“Arkansas came in a little late in the process,” Harris said.
Harris said Kirkland, who will be accompanied by his mother on the trip, will announce his decision on ESPN on Feb. 6, which is national signing day.
Offensive linemen Kenny Lacy of Phoenix Mountain Pointe is expected to arrive in town around 12:30 p.m. for his visit. Lemming rates him as a four star prospect.
Lacy, 6-5, 272 pounds, 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is orally committed to UCLA. He has visited the Bruins, as well as Nebraska and Arizona State, and said Arkansas will be his last visit.
Pittman had an in-home visit with Lacy and his mother Tuesday, and Lacy said that getting him to flip from UCLA would be tough. Oral commitments are nonbinding.
“I’ve heard it’s great place they have down there,” Lacy said of Arkansas. “If there’s going to be anyone who could do it, it would be them.”
Another highly sought offensive lineman, Dwayne Johnson of Bellaire (Texas) High School, is also expected to make his way to Fayetteville. Johnson, 6-6, 280 pounds, 5.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is rated as a three-star prospect by Lemming and visited Nebraska last weekend. He hosted Pittman for an in-home visit Monday.
HIGH ON HOGS
Arkansas’ football team could add at least three oral commitments this weekend, and defensive lineman Ke’Tyrus Marks of Riviera Beach (Fla.) Suncoast is one of them.
Marks and his mother visited Wednesday with Coach Bret Bielema and lead recruiter Charlie Partridge, Arkansas’ defensive line coach.
Marks, 6-2, 285 pounds, 4.9seconds in the 40-yard dash, has scholarship offers from six schools, including Arkansas, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky and Massachusetts. His mother was won over by Bielema.
“She loves Coach Bielema. He really made a big impression on her,” Marks said. “She asked a lot of questions and he answered them accurately and truthfully.”
Marks said more than a week ago that he would likely commit to the Razorbacks during his visit, and he knows what he is looking forward to on his trip.
“Getting to Fayetteville and getting to meet all of the crazy Arkansas fans that I love so much,” Marks said with a chuckle.
Another major target Arkansas is hoping to land is highly recruited running back Alex Collins of Plantation (Fla.) South.
Collins, 5-11, 210 pounds, 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has visited Miami, Florida and Florida State. He also visited Wisconsin before Bret Bielema left to take the Arkansas job.
Miami Northwestern safety De’Andre Coley also is expected to make an official visit to Fayetteville.
Coley, 6-1, 183 pounds, 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said linebackers coach Randy Shannon has sold him on getting an education from Arkansas and the opportunities it offers after football.
“If I don’t go to the NFL, he said I’ll leave with a good job in whatever I major in,” said Coley, who is considering sports medicine or business real estate as majors. “It’s just not about football. He’s interested in education, too. That’s why I like the school so much.”
Coley has best times of 10.6 seconds in the 100 meters and 22.3 in the 200. He has scholarship offers from six schools, including Cincinnati, and he said he could orally commit to the Razorbacks as early as during his visit today.
D.J. Dean, a cornerback from Newton, Texas, has scholarship offers from more than 10 schools, including Baylor, Illinois, Utah and Washington State. Dean, 5-11, 185 pounds, 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said earlier this week that he could decide to be a Razorback if his visit goes well.
TIGHT END OFFERED
Arkansas’ coaching staff is being aggressive when it comes to the state’s 2014 class, and the staff proved that this week by offering a scholarship to Bentonville tight end Jack Kraus.
Kraus, 6-5, 240 pounds, 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash, already had scholarship offers from Illinois and Utah State. Bentonville Coach Barry Lunney called Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema on Tuesday and handed the phone over to Kraus.
“I was just amazed,” Kraus said. “I had no idea it was coming. I just thought he was going to tell me he was interested in me. When he offered me, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to say, really. It was really amazing.”
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports, Pages 24 on 01/25/2013