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.
The Recruiting Guy:
More on K.J. Hill
Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith, tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman and running backs coach Joel Thomas watching North Little Rock receiver K.J. Hill during the Charging Wildcats' spring game at War Memorial Stadium.
In Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, receiver K.J. Hill’s stepfather Montez Peterson recapped Hill’s August 16 visit to Arkansas. Today, he adds more about the trip.
Hill, 6-1, 192, 4.42 seconds in the 40 yard dash, of North Little Rock has approximately 20 scholarship offers and is major target of the Hogs. He plans to reveal his announcement date after tonight’s scrimmage against Conway.
His mother, Diedra and Peterson accompanied him on the trip to Fayetteville.
One of the highlights was watching the Razorbacks scrimmage in a north end zone suite with Mike Anderson, Arkansas' men's basketball coach, Jimmy Dykes, the Razorbacks' women's basketball coach, and former Hog and Razorback Foundation associate director Marvin Caston.
“It’s like everybody is looking out for everybody,” Peterson said. “Like coach Dykes is making sure that coach (Bret) Bielema knows he has his back. Coach Anderson is letting coach Dykes and coach Bielema that he has their backs.”
Peterson said Anderson and Dykes wouldn’t endorse Bielema unless they were confident about the leadership of the football program.
“They’re not going to put their name on the line,” Peterson said. “They’re just not going to do it. So that’s why I feel everything is genuine and everything is good for kids because I believe each and every one of those guys would die for a kid. I believe that.”
Bielema made a big impression on Hill, his mother and Peterson.
“The second highlight of the visit was meeting with coach Bielema in his office and the passion he showed about reiterating the things he finds special about our son,” Peterson said. “The best way he could put it is how bad he not only wants him, but needs him.”
“The best thing I could say it was really comfortable. This is the one time like it was more like we were visiting family. Those were the two biggest things.”
Director of recruiting E.K. Franks’ energy and enthusiasm impressed Peterson.
“I personally feel like this is going to really help Arkansas’ recruiting efforts with many other recruits,” Peterson said. “I’ve never felt his type of energy during the recruiting process of K.J. at Arkansas. Ever, ever.”
After talking to Franks, Peterson is encouraged about the direction of Razorback recruiting.
“He just felt like sometimes when he first got here some things were left off the table and could’ve been elevated to show recruits how the University of Arkansas can benefit them and help them,” Peterson said. “Not just in athletics, but just overall.”
Peterson and his wife left around 6 p.m. Saturday while Hill stayed over until Sunday and rode back home with Dumas tight end Will Gragg, who arrived in Fayetteville on Friday.
“Coach B made sure somebody reported to him about how they were doing and what they were doing while he was there,” Peterson said. “He doesn’t want anything to happen to our son while he’s there. And you factor all the other things with him saying the way K.J.’s character is and how he is as a person."
“It was like I know inside out what your kid can do for this program to the point of I know he’s a person we have to have, not just want to have but have to have. Because of the things he brings to the table outside of football. So it was just special. It was special.”
Dykes and Anderson stressed the importance of in-state prospects continuing their education and athletic careers at Arkansas.
“It wasn’t that I knew him personally, but I knew by the words that were coming out of his mouth, he was straight shooter,” said Peterson of Dykes.
Peterson appreciated Dykes’ work on ESPN as a color commentator and his ability to give non-bias insight on Arkansas games despite his strong ties to the university and the state.
“A lot of people got mad at him at Arkansas because they felt like he should’ve been a homer and say nice things about Arkansas when they were terrible,” Peterson said. “But he kept it real and he kept it like that all the way through his career.”
Because of his respect for Dykes, Peterson said Dykes’ words hit home.
“When he talked to me and my wife and my son eye-to-eye, he never blinked,” Peterson said. “His words were like iron”