Richard Davenport is a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Recruiting big focus during bye week
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema congratulates linebacker Braylon Mitchell as he comes off the field during a Sept. 28, 2013 game against Texas A&M at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema addressed the media on Thursday and spoke on several topics, including recruiting.
“You know, we, you know, for all practical purposes, we’ve probably worked our way through three-fourths of our commitments,” Bielema said. “We’ve got a certain number that we’re set in. That number may grow. My guess is we’re going to have some conversations in December with some guys that may or may not be happy with where they’re at and where they need to go. Some, couple guys have made some life choices that will make it easy for me to move in a certain direction.”
Any player leaving the program won’t happen in haste.
“They only way that you can lose your scholarship is from stupid behavior, academically or socially,” Bielema said. “With that being said, I really have taken the last 2 or 3 weeks to get a good accord of what I see, what we have and what we need to do.”
Arkansas planned to signed two or three junior college recruits but may add one or two more. Bielema talked about the possibility of a transfer or a junior-college player or two on offense.
“There’s certain kids that commit to you that you may see them as an immediate answer,” Bielema said. “Whereas you see certain kids as they might be a two-year answer or somebody you expect to see come in and develop in the program the way that we like to get it done.”
Bielema bragged on the recruiting office for recently sending out a poster that let prospects know good things are happening at Arkansas.
“This is something they put together,” Bielema said. “Greatness is happening, are you going to be the next freshman to have a role in the season? It basically lists 18 guys that are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen that are having immediate impact on our program. We’ve got, probably, I was notified the other day, probably five, maybe six-seven guys, depending on how the next four games go, guys that could be either freshmen All-Americans or for sure freshmen All-SEC players. Whether that’s something you want or not, it’s definitely something that encourages you and gets you excited about what we’re doing.”
The ability to use private aircraft of supporters of the program is a great asset.
“I used Warren Stephens plane, a guy that’s been great for me since I got here about travel,” Bielema said. “I texted him the other day, I said hey last year your plane helped me land four true freshmen All-Americans. If we can double that in this year’s class, we’ll be doing good business. So hopefully that can continue to grow.”
Bielema gave a rundown on what he’s looking for while on the recruiting trial.
“I want kids that love football,” he said. “I want them to, you know, a lot of people play football, but kids that love football, usually you can do extraordinary things with.”
A strong desire to win is high on the list.
“I want them to have something that shows me that they love to win,” Bielema said. “Whether it's a championship, a winning record, being a captain. Something that shows me that they don't just love playing the game. They love playing it, but they want to win.”
Prospects must strive be to successful academically, athletically and socially.
“And they're all three equal,” Bielema said. “If they have an imbalance in that, usually we're not going to be able to get them to where they want to be. You're going to play your best football, if you're a player that comes into our program and does what we do and practices the way we do, you are going to play better football in year two, three, four and five than you do in year one. That's how it works. So it doesn't do me any good to lose a guy after three years being ineligible or anything like that. Now if I lose a guy in three years because he's a first-round draft pick, amen, hallelujah, he was probably a pretty good player for me as well.”