The Recruiting Guy:

Florida LB includes UA in top 10, pencils in visit

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, August 22, 2014
Linebacker Derrick Graham is excited about his offer from the Razorbacks.
Linebacker Derrick Graham is excited about his offer from the Razorbacks.

Arkansas is expected to get an official visit from one of top defensive targets, linebacker Derrick Graham.

Graham, 6-4, 225, 4.75 seconds in the 40-yard dash of Wauchula (Fla.) Hardee, reduced his list of more than 20 scholarship offers on Sunday to a top 10 that included Arkansas, Florida, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Mississippi State, Nebraska and South Florida.


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Coach Bret Bielema, defensive coordinator Robb Smith and linebackers coach Randy Shannon are primarily responsible, Graham said, for his interest in the Hogs.

"I have a good relationship with the coaches ... " Graham said. "They have a nice academic program. I feel like I would be taken care of on that side of things. I know I'm going to be coached up. "

Graham played free safety and receiver as a sophomore, then recorded 51 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 3 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble in his first season to play linebacker as a junior. He also had 7 receptions for 168 yards and 1 touchdown.

Graham and older brother, P.J. made an unofficial visit to Fayetteville June 8. He talks to defensive coordinator Smith on a regular basis.

"It's not just about football, it's about life and other stuff," Graham said. "My goals and stuff like that. So he understands me and that's a big deal."

Graham said he was able to interact with Shannon, his potential position coach, during the June visit.

"He's coached a lot of great, great linebackers like Ray Lewis and people like that," said. "That's a big deal. I can learn a lot from him. It was great getting to sit down and talk to him."

Graham said he plans to take all five of his NCAA allotted official visits, but right now Arkansas and Florida are the only schools assured of it.

Gaham and P.J. have visited Mississippi State, Florida, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, South Alabama and Iowa State.

"The facilities were great, the best of any school I've been to," Graham said of Arkansas. "That's something that really stood out to me. I didn't think it was going to be that big. It wasn't a big campus, that was a good thing too. It wasn't like you had to go way over there. It was like all in one spot. It was a great visit."

NO. 1 IN MISSOURI

The commitment of Jimmy Whitt to Arkansas on Tuesday is biggest get for Coach Mike Anderson and his staff at the guard position since arriving in Fayetteville three years ago.

Whitt, 6-3, 170 pounds of Columbia, Mo., Hickman chose the Razorbacks over 25 scholarship offers, including Missouri, Marquette, Illinois and SMU. ESPN rates Whitt as the No. 21 shooting guard, No. 64 overall prospect in the nation and the No. 1 recruit in Missouri.

National recruiting analyst Van Coleman of The Basketball Channel calls Whitt a tremendous athlete who can play the point guard or shooting guard.

"He has 2 ability, to create off the dribble, going left or right," Coleman said. "He's a strong physical finisher who sees the open man and delivers the rock when needed."

Whitt, who has a wing span of 81 inches, is a "tremendous defender".

"A guy that can get down and get after it and take on the top backcourt player on the other team and shut him down," Coleman said. "I think he's going to fit in well with the Razorbacks and is a great addition. He's definitely a top 50 prospect."

'FREAK OF NATURE'

Arkansas is expected to get a visit from one of the nation's top junior prospects, defensive lineman Antwuan Jackson.

Jackson, 6-3 1/2, 275, 5.0 seconds in the 40 yard dash, of Ellenwood, (Ga.) Cedar Grove has more than 25 scholarship offers, including all the SEC schools. He's the nation's No. 10 defensive tackle and the No. 114 overall prospect in the 2016 class by ESPN.

He along with sophomore quarterback Jelani Woods and junior safety LaBron Morris are looking to attend a game in Fayetteville in the fall.

"We're going to try and catch a game down there and see what Arkansas is about and how the program is," Jackson said.

Defensive line coach Rory Segrest visited the school during the spring elevation period. Cedar Grove assistant coach Chris Hill, who is the school's college recruiting coordinator, said Jackson played both ways as a sophomore

"It's really rare that you see a lineman dominate on both sides the football," Hill said. "He's just kind of a freak of nature."

Hill said the Hogs were quick to offer Jackson.

"They actually offered him way early in the process and that was good," Hill said.

Jackson has been elected as one of four team captains by his teammates and coaches.

"I was like finally, I'm a captain," he said. "Last year, I wanted to be one, but this year it felt kind of special."

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 08/22/2014

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