THE RECRUITING GUY:

Minnesota recruit adds to strength of line class

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman on the sideline during the Razorbacks' Aug. 31, 2013 game against Louisiana-Lafayette at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Rick McFarland
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman on the sideline during the Razorbacks' Aug. 31, 2013 game against Louisiana-Lafayette at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who has covered recruiting for 35 years, said he believes Arkansas lured in one of the nation’s top offensive line recruits in Frank Ragnow of Victoria (Minn.) Chanhassen.

“I gave him four stars,” Lemming said. “He’s a bigtime player.”

Ragnow, 6-6, 291 pounds, 5.0 seconds in the 40-yard dash, had narrowed his list of more than 20 scholarship offers to Arkansas, Minnesota and Florida State before picking the Razorbacks on Friday.

The Razorbacks signed three four-star offensive linemen last year: Dan Skipper of Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley, Denver Kirkland of Miami Washington and Reeve Koehler of St. Louis High School in Honolulu. They also have commitments from four-star offensive tackle Brian Wallace Jr. and three-star-plus offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt for the 2014 class.

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman is involved in the recruiting of all the offensive line prospects and was the lead recruiter on Skipper, Koehler, Wallace and Ragnow.Linebackers coach Randy Shannon was the lead recruiter of Kirkland, and running backs coach Joel Thomas was the lead recruiter for Pruitt.

“When he was at North Carolina, he was their best recruiter,” Lemming said of Pittman. “Wherever he goes, he’s one of the best recruiters. He’s worth his weight in gold not only as a coach, but as a recruiter. In college you have to be both, and he exemplifies that.”

Pittman is also the lead recruiter of highly recruited offensive tackle Andrew Mike, 6-7, 275, 5.05, of Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino. He’ll announce his college decision Monday and is expected to choose between Arkansas, Florida, Penn State and Vanderbilt.

Lemming rates Mike a four-star prospect and said he believes he is as good as there is in Arizona.

“Andrew Mike may be the best offensive lineman in Arizona,” Lemming said. “They have Casey Tucker, who didn’t have the year I thought he would, and Mike did. He was a two-time All-State.”

Lemming said Mike could put Arkansas’ offensive line class among some of the best in the country.

“If they get Mike, this will be one of the better offensive line classes in the nation,” Lemming said. “Alabama has a real good one. Florida State, Notre Dame and Ohio State all have good ones.”

Lemming said he isn’t surprised the Hogs were able to go into Minnesota and get Ragnow, considering Coach Bret Bielema’s ties to that region from his days coaching at Wisconsin.

“That gives Arkansas a little bit more of an extension, a reach in recruiting which will help them down the line when they’re battling SEC schools,” Lemming said. “Unlike a lot of the SEC schools, they can go up north and get players. Then they’re in the SEC, they can go to Florida, Georgia and recruit players there too.

“It gives them a little bit of an advantage.”DOWN THE ROAD

Fordyce athlete Gary Cross will be heading back home today after arriving in Fayetteville on Friday for his official visit.

He said he was humbled by the attention he has received from Arkansas after playing football this past season for the first time since the ninth grade.

“It’s a pleasure to come up and be invited to Arkansas,” Cross said before his visit. “I never thought I would be coming to Arkansas. This is my first year to play football. I didn’t know I would make it this far playing football the first year.”

Cross hasn’t met the academic requirements for Division I eligibility, so the Hogs plan to place him at a junior college with hopes of signing him in a couple of years.

Cross, 6-2, 190 pounds, was named to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas team after recording 27 receptions for 604 yards and 9 touchdowns this past season.He also played safety and had 52 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 6 pass breakups, 3 recovered fumbles and 4 forced fumbles.

Cross said he isn’t picky about what position the Razorbacks want him to play.

Cross averaged 22.4 yards per reception.

Arkansas also hosted Jackson (Miss.) Callaway defensive lineman Breeland Speaks, 6-4, 285, 4.98, for an official visit. Speaks is orally committed to Ole Miss.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Arkansas recruiting list

2014 COMMITMENTS

POS., NAME HT. WT. 40 SCHOOL

DE Anthony Brown 6-3 1/2 235 NA Miami Killian

WR Jared Cornelius * 6-1 190 4.48 Shreveport Evangel

RB Juan Day 6-2 210 4.5 North Little Rock

WR Kendrick Edwards 6-6 200 4.6 Miami Norland

LB Dwayne Eugene 6-2 220 4.5 Metairie (La.) Rummel

CB Cornelius Floyd 6-1 175 4.48 Miami Gulliver Prep

LB Khalia Hackett 6-2 208 4.63 S. Paulding (Ga.)

DE Jake Hall 6-5 230 NA Springdale Har-Ber

K Cole Hedlund 5-10 170 NA Argyle, Texas

DL Bijhon Jackson 6-2 325 5.1 El Dorado

TE Jack Kraus 6-5 240 4.9 Bentonville

ATH Josh Liddell 6-1 198 4.43 Pine Bluff Dollarway

CB Chris Murphy * 5-10 180 4.4 Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter

QB Rafe Peavey * 6-2 208 4.5 Bolivar, Mo.

OL Jovan Pruitt 6-6 295 5.1 Dallas Bishop Dunne

OL Frank Ragnow 6-6 291 5.0 Victoria (Minn.) Chanhassen

DB Santos Ramirez 6-2 180 4.55 Shreveport (La.) Evangel

LB Randy Ramsey 6-3 210 4.57 Fort Lauderdale Dillard

CB Henre Toliver 6-1 180 4.56 Metairie (La.) Rummel

OL Brian Wallace 6-6 304 5.2 St. Louis Christ. Brothers

DL Armon Watts 6-5 270 5.1 St. Louis Christ. Brothers * has signed an Institutional Financial Aid Agreement and enrolled

JUNIOR-COLLEGE SIGNEES

POS., NAME HT. WT. 40 SCHOOL

WR Cody Hollister 6-4 205 4.5 Arizona Western CC

OL Sebastian Tretola 6-4 /2 315 4.9 Iowa Western CC

2015 COMMITMENTS

POS., NAME HT. WT. 40 SCHOOL

DE-TE Jamario Bell 6-6 230 4.7 Junction City

DE Hjalte Froholdt 6-5 275 NA Denmark

OL Colton Jackson 6-6 291 NA Conway

OL Zach Rogers 6-3 295 5.09 Carrollton (Texas) Hebron

QB Ty Storey 6-3 217 4.92 Charleston

Sports, Pages 27 on 02/02/2014

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