Hogs’ haul: 3 commit, 4 ponder

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Bret Bielema was hired to fill Arkansas' head coaching vacancy on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Photo by The Associated Press
Bret Bielema was hired to fill Arkansas' head coaching vacancy on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.

— Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and his staff had a very productive weekend, landing three oral commitments out of the seven prospects who made official visits.

Arkansas also might have helped themselves with the four other recruits who visited the campus.

Running back Alex Collins, 5-11, 210 pounds, 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of South Plantation (Fla.) High School called his visit “great” and liked being able to meet the players.

“I got a chance to tour the campus, which was beautiful and I was able to sit down with all the other coaches,” said Collins, who’s rated a four-star prospect by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports. “I would rate it a high 8, 9 or 10. It’s up there, I really enjoyed myself.”

Collins, who was once committed to Miami, previously visited the Hurricanes, Florida and Florida State. He also visited Wisconsin in October while Bielema and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge were with the Badgers.

Collins said he thought highly of the Hogs before he stepped on campus and the visit was what he expected.

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“I knew some of the coaches from Wisconsin,” Collins said. “So I already knew the coaches because they had been recruiting me for two years now. I kind of got what I was expecting.”

It could come down to Arkansas and Miami for Collins, who’s expected to announce his decision Feb. 4.

The ongoing NCAA investigation of Miami could play into Collins’ decision. The NCAA announced last week that it will not deliver its long awaited notice of allegations to Miami until an external review of the conduct of its enforcement staff in the case is completed.

“It’s hard because it still hasn’t come out and it’s being stretched out,” Collins said. “I feel like it’s not going to come out until after signing day, which is bad. I would like to know if I was thinking about going there what I’m getting into.”

Collins, who hopes to go into broadcasting after, said he was impressed with Arkansas’ journalism department.

“I got a chance to tour it and it looks great,” Collins said. “I could really see myself thriving in that field. I felt comfortable walking through it and saying I can see myself sitting there and working there.”

Three highly touted offensive linemen also enjoyed their trips over the weekend.

Denver Kirkland, 6-5, 320, of Miami Washington made Arkansas his fifth official visit, after trips to Ole Miss, Florida State, South Florida and Miami. He’s rated a four-star prospect by Lemming.

“I was coming up and I didn’t expect everything to be like this,” Kirkland said. “It was just surprising and shocking. The facilities were great.”

Kirkland, from Miami, said he liked the less populated Fayetteville.

“You can move from like A to B in about three seconds if you want to,so that is good.” Kirkland said.

Kirkland, who said he plans to reveal his decision on ESPNU on national signing date Feb. 6, said he’s undecided where he’ll attend college.

“It is just a hard decision,” Kirkland said.

Kenny Lacy, 6-5, 284, 5.1, of Phoenix Mountain Pointe is committed to UCLA, but said the visit to Fayetteville gave him more to think about.

“Yes it did, I’m going to go home and talk to family about it,” said Lacy, who’s rated a four-star prospect by Lemming. “I’ll give Coach [Jim] Chaney and them a call let them know about my decision.”

Lacy said Arkansas’ facilities, notably the new football complex slated to open sometime during the summer, caught him by surprise.

“They’re definitely the best facilities I’ve seen so far,” said Lacy, who has also made official visits to UCLA, Nebraska and Arizona State. “It will make the best even better. I was just about impressed about everything.”

Dwayne Johnson, 6-6, 270, 5.2, of Bellaire (Texas) High School, said Nebraska was his leader before visiting Fayetteville.

“I have a lot to think about that now,” said Johnson after his visit to Arkansas. “That’s what I’m going to be doing is thinking.”

Johnson traveled to Fayetteville with his father and two uncles, one who’s originally from Conway. He said the Hogs “definitely “made up some ground with him, was impressed with the Razorbacks fans.

“The fan base is crazy,”Johnson said.

Freshman running back Jonathan Williams showed Johnson around campus.

“He’s a real cool dude,” said Johnson, who’s rated a three star prospect by Lemming. “Pretty cool.”

Johnson, who also made official visits Nebraska on Jan. 18, Washington State on Jan. 11 and Purdue on Oct. 12, committed to the Boilermakers last summer but reopened his recruiting Jan. 9. He said he’s not sure when he’ll make a decision.

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Sports, Pages 20 on 01/29/2013