Razorbacks coach shadows NLR running back

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Alabama commit Altee Tenpenny, pictured running the ball against Cabot, was visited by Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and running backs coach Joel Thomas on Thursday.
Alabama commit Altee Tenpenny, pictured running the ball against Cabot, was visited by Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and running backs coach Joel Thomas on Thursday.

— Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and running backs coach Joel Thomas visited North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny at school, at home and at his job Thursday.

Tenpenny, 5-11, 215 pounds, 4.32 seconds in the 40-yarddash, is rated the No. 46 prospect in the nation by CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming and is a major target of the Hogs.

Charging Wildcats Coach Brad Bolding said Bielema and Thomas arrived at school at 2 p.m. and talked to Tenpenny for about 45 minutes in Bolding’s office. They also watched Tenpenny during track practice inside the school gymnasium for about 50 minutes.

Bielema and Thomas arrived at Tenpenny’s home at 5 p.m. and spent about 15 minutes with the prize recruit before Tenpenny had to leave to go to work at a North Little Rock restaurant.

“They met with Mom, an uncle, his grandmother and little brother for about two hours and 15 minutes,” Bolding said. “[Bielema] then went to Altee’s workplace and was able to go to the back room and have 1-on-1 time with Altee for about 30 minutes. He said the format actually worked out better. He wanted to have time with Mom and have 1-on-1 time with Altee.”

Bolding said he heard the visits with Tenpenny and his family were outstanding.

“Altee’s mom said a lot of questions were answered,” Bolding said.

Bolding said Bielema told him that he admires Tenpenny’s work ethic.

“He said the thing he loved about Altee is kids in his scenario enjoy the headlines and get the big head,” Bolding said.“He said Altee is flipping burgers for five hours a night to make some money. He said his head is on right because of the people who molded him.” DOWN TO BUSINESS

Seven prospects will finish up their official visits at Arkansas today, and the Hogs hope to land some commitments before they depart.

The Razorbacks had three offensive line prospects on campus: Denver Kirkland, 6-5, 320, of Miami Washington; Kenny Lacy, 6-5, 272, 5.1, of Phoenix Mountain Pointe; and Dwayne Johnson, 6-6, 270, 5.2, of Bellaire, Texas.

Johnson has taken official visits to Nebraska, Washington State and Purdue. He was committed to Purdue but decided to reopen his recruiting in early January, and he is down to Arkansas and Nebraska with the Cornhuskers holding the lead.

“The coaches sold themselves and I wanted to come up to the university for myself,” Johnson said of Arkansas.

Johnson hosted Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and offensive line coach Sam Pittman on Monday for an in-home visit, and that helped convince Johnson to make a trip to Fayetteville.

“He’s a great dude,” Johnson said of Pittman. “I love his character. He’s a funny dude, funny guy.”

Johnson said Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business is a plus for the Hogs after learning more about it from Pittman.

“At first he didn’t know much about it because he had only been here a month, so he was honest,” Johnson said. “Then he came back after he had some more information about it, so I am looking to getting to know more about the business program.”

Johnson is being recruited as an offensive tackle and said he doesn’t have a timeline for making a decision.


Arkansas is fighting it out with Miami and South Florida to get an official visit from running back Matt Dayes of Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay.

Dayes, 5-9, 190, received an in-home visit from Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas and liked what he had to say.

“He said they’re new coaches and they’re looking to start off right,” Dayes said. “He said their facilities are nice and he would like to get me up there for a visit.”

Dayes has taken official visits to North Carolina State and Central Florida and will wrap up a visit to Vanderbilt today. He said if he doesn’t make a decision before next weekend, he’ll chose from Arkansas, Miami and South Florida for his final visit Feb. 1.

The lack of running backs on campus intrigued Dayes, who is looking for early playing time.

“I know they have three guys there right now, but there’s one with an injury and he’s still recovering,” Dayes said.

Dayes, who orally committed to North Carolina State but reopened his recruiting in November, rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 27 touchdowns this season in Class 8A,the highest classification in Florida.


Arkansas basketball signee Bobby Portis, a senior forward at Little Rock Hall, is 56 points away from reaching 1,000 career points after scoring 18 points Friday night against Fort Smith Northside.

Portis, 6-9 1/2, 220, should reach the milestone in the next week or so. The Warriors play Tuesday at Russellville before playing Fort Smith Southside next Friday and Conway on Feb. 5.

Portis is rated the No. 15 recruit in the 2013 class by Van Coleman, national director of basketball for network and scouting service.

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Sports, Pages 25 on 01/27/2013