Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007. He also hosts Recruiting Thursday each Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. statewide.
Hill and Gragg get royal treatment
Arkansas rolled out the red carpet and a few new twists for North Little Rock receiver K.J. Hill and Dumas tight end Will Gragg during their visit over the weekend.
“It was straight,” Gragg said. “We talked to the coaches, talked to coach (Bret) Bielema one-on-one and got an in-depth look how they do things. We got to associate with the players and the other commitments like Ty (Storey) and C.J. (O’Grady).”
Hill, a 6-1, 192 pounds, 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and Gragg, 6-4, 247, 4.8 were able to talk to Mike Anderson, Arkansas' men's basketball coach, and Jimmy Dykes, the women's basketball coach.
“It was nice,” Hill said. “That was big-time. It really did put something in me, in my heart about staying at home. It was a good visit.”
Gragg said Dykes urged him and Hill to stay inside the state.
“He was reiterating the same thing, two highly recruited guys stay home and not go somewhere else," Gragg said.
Hog receiver Jared Cornelius, running backs Juan Day and Jonathan Williams also preached about playing at home.
“They were telling us how they want us to be a part of the team,” Gragg said.
Hill said Anderson had a request.
“We exchanged numbers,” said Hill, who helped the Charging Wildcats to the Class 7A basketball title. “He wants me to start calling him.”
Gragg was impressed with the team and a couple players in Saturday's scrimmage.
“Korliss Marshall and Jeremy Sprinkle stood out at scrimmage,” Gragg said.
Hill, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps offensive player of the year, was also impressed with Marshall.
“I was impressed with Korliss, he was looking like the starter,” said Hill, who recorded 63 receptions for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. “He was looking pretty good.”
Cornelius and Jojo Robinson were doing their part in trying to get Hill to Fayetteville.
“Jared, he always gets on me about it,” Hill said. “That was my first time meeting Jojo, he was pretty cool. He told me they need me to come up and help too.”
During his one-on-one with Bielema, Hill heard how his pledge would be received by the Razorback fans and other recruits.
“He was just saying “What do I have to do to get you to say yes?”, Hill said. “He was just in the office telling me the moment I say yes the whole state will just be crazy. I can bring in other recruits after seeing me commit and they'll come too. I could just make a big impact on state of Arkansas and the team.”
Receivers coach Michael Smith had a few words for Hill.
“Quit playing man, come up here play for your man,” Hill said. “Come play for me. We need you.”
Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said much the same.
“He’s always up there in my ear,” he said. “He tells me we need you and stuff like that.”
Hill sees similarities between Arkansas’ offense and what North Little Rock runs.
“That’s the same stuff we run here pro (style),” Hill said.”Then we can switch it up a little bit. Mainly the same stuff we do on offense is the same thing they were doing. That was what I was looking at and coach (Bielema) agreed. He was saying out of the pro, I would come in and just fit in and it wouldn’t be anything new for me”.
He appreciated the Hogs’ efforts to lure him to Fayetteville.
“It’s just a special thing to have everybody and the coaches want you,” Hill said. “Just them showing they want you makes you want to play for them and it isn’t BS or anything like that. That makes me feel pretty good about them.”
A decision could come next month.
“I'm still trying to debate if I should make my decision on the (Sept.) 15th or not,” Hill said.